The Laura Kinsella Fellowship 2021 is awarded to Harminder Kaur. After studying creative writing at UEA as part of her degree in Literature and Film, and an MA in Literature at Sussex, Harminder’s life was interrupted by the onset of schizophrenia while she was studying for a PhD in Cultural Theory at Hull. She is currently writing a work of literary fiction called Psychotic Episodes, which is made up of a series of linked stories about mental illness, race and faith.

It was judged by Kerry Hudson and Eva Verde with NCW Communications Manager Stephanie McKenna.

Of Kaur’s work, Kerry Hudson said:

‘We felt Harminder’s work showed enormous presence. She’s a writer of power and honesty and the piece both moved and provoked thoughts in equal measure. We can’t wait to see what Harminder will do with this opportunity, and we feel very grateful that we got to read her work.’

Harminder Kaur was born in the UK to Indian parents. Her mother worked in a factory and was a cleaner. Her father was a primary school teacher in an inner city school in Coventry. Harminder studied creative writing at UEA as part of her degree in Literature and Film. After an MA in Literature at Sussex, Harminder has done a wide variety of jobs, including drug and alcohol worker, chef and kitchen manager, lecturer, live-in carer, and researcher.

Harminder’s life was interrupted by the onset of schizophrenia while she was studying for a PhD in Cultural Theory at Hull. One of the positive aspects of her illness was that it was a spiritual experience which led to her to becoming a Christian. She is currently writing a work of literary fiction called Psychotic Episodes, which is made up of a series of linked stories about mental illness, race and faith.

In 2020 she was longlisted for the Penguin WriteNow programme, and was offered a free place on a Professional Writing Academy Course by New Writing North. In 2021 she was awarded a place on ‘A Brief Pause’, a six-month development programme organised by Dahlia Press for women working on short fiction.