Hannah Lowe wins the 2024 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award — Blake Friedmann (2024)

We are delighted to announce that Costa Book Award-winner Hannah Lowe has been awarded the highly prestigious 2024 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award. She received the award, along with Alia Trabucco Zerán, at a reception at the British Library on 29 November.

The award recognises two writers in the early stages of a new book relating to the Americas, and offers the writers a residency at the British Library – with access to the Library’s extensive Americas collection – as well as a £20,000 grant to complete their works. Hannah will also have the chance to appear at future Hay Festival editions with her published work in Wales, Columbia, Mexico and Peru, and the opportunity to work with the Eccles Centre to develop and facilitate activities and events related to her research at the British Library. The award is now in its 13th year, and with previous winners including Olivia Laing, John Burnside and Ayanna Lloyd Banwo.

Polly Russell, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, said ‘We could not be more excited to support Hannah Lowe and Alia Trabucco as the 2024 Eccles-Hay Writer’s Award winners. Both their projects – one focussed on the Chinese population of the Caribbean and the other on Latin American identity – promise to explore untapped British Library Americas collections and to uncover aspects of Latin American and Caribbean culture and history that have been much overlooked. We look forward to welcoming them to the Library and supporting their work as they delve into the Library’s rich holdings.’

Hay Festival International Director, Cristina Fuentes La Roche said: ‘We are delighted to award the grants to two writers that explore shifting identities, belonging and its meanings in today´s world, and that would link up their literary project with the work of amazing writers and researchers from the British Library archives… Hannah Lowe´s [project] looks into the past, more specifically her own family, exploring race, colonial complexities and the legacy of the British Empire. We can´t wait to learn about their explorations and findings at the archives.’

Hannah’s submitted work for the award was a lyrical, hybrid memoir, with the working title of MOY: In Search of Nelsa Lowe. It uses the intimate story of her Chinese Jamaican aunt – a folk healer, amputee, hostess of a famous waterfront restaurant, and ‘madam’ of a portside brothel – as a pathway to exploring the history of the Chinese in Jamaica, women’s sexual labour, and the culture of folk healing.

The judges said ‘We were enthralled by Hannah Lowe’s inventive approach to conjuring Nelsa, her Afro-Chinese Jamaican aunt. Remarkably, Lowe evokes Nelsa through a single portrait photo and along the way excavates other marginalised women whose lives are rarely noted in official archives.’

About Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford to an English mother and Jamaican-Chinese father. Her 2021 poetry collection, THE KIDS, won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2021 after winning the Costa Poetry Award. It was also shortlisted for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize, was a Poetry Book Society Choice for Autumn 2021 and an Irish Times and Guardian poetry book of the year.

Her first book-length collection, CHICK, won the 2015 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize and was selected for the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets 2014 promotion. Her second full-length collection, CHAN, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016, followed by a pamphlet, THE NEIGHBOURHOOD (Out-Spoken Press) in 2019. Her prose memoir, LONG TIME NO SEE, exploring her relationship with her half-Chinese, half-Jamaican immigrant father, was published by Periscope in 2015.

Praise for THE KIDS

‘This is a playful yet moving collection that will make the reader frown and laugh, sometimes both at once.’ – Mary Jean Chan, The Guardian, ‘The Best Recent Poetry’

‘Lowe’s social conscience, grounded register and frank humanity recall Tony Harrison...’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph

‘Hannah Lowe's brilliant and entertaining book of sonnets, THE KIDS, is one of the most humorous and tender collections of recent times.’ – Sean Hewitt, The Irish Times, ‘Best poetry of 2021’

‘THE KIDS is the real deal. A page turner about the experience of teaching and being taught, it made us want to punch the air with joy... A contemporary book that buzzes with life while re-energising the sonnet that Shakespeare would recognise. All readers will find something of themselves here.’ – Costa Poetry Award Judges Rishi Dastidar, Ian Duhig and Maya Jaggi

‘A book to fall in love with – it’s joyous, it’s warm and it’s completely universal. It’s crafted and skilful but also accessible… I felt the centre of gravity in the room was with THE KIDS because it fulfils everything that the Costa Book of the Year should be. It’s very readable, very accessible, broad appeal, it’s the sort of book that you could hand to anybody because you would know that everyone would get something out of it… It is a book of poetry, it’s a book of sonnets, but Hannah Lowe is in no way constrained by the form of the poetry. The language just speaks very directly to the reader. It’s a very audacious, utterly successful book, I think, because it’s taking a classical art form, that goes back hundreds of years, and making it bang up-to-date, completely contemporary. We all thought it was so fresh and original.’ – Reeta Chakrabarti, chair of Costa Prize judges

Visit Hannah’s website

Follow Hannah on X (previously Twitter) and Instagram

Hannah Lowe wins the 2024 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award — Blake Friedmann (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Annamae Dooley

Last Updated:

Views: 5799

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Annamae Dooley

Birthday: 2001-07-26

Address: 9687 Tambra Meadow, Bradleyhaven, TN 53219

Phone: +9316045904039

Job: Future Coordinator

Hobby: Archery, Couponing, Poi, Kite flying, Knitting, Rappelling, Baseball

Introduction: My name is Annamae Dooley, I am a witty, quaint, lovely, clever, rich, sparkling, powerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.