Tracy Coker

Tracy Coker’s manuscript White Yams was declared the winner of the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2022 on Thursday, October 4, 2022.

The Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award is open to unrepresented and unpublished authors for a novel in any adult fiction genre. This year it was judged by literary agents Rowan Lawton and Marina de Pass of The Soho Agency and author Jo Bloom. They received 950 entries and chose a longlist of 23 titles and a shortlist of six.

The winner of the award this year is Sierra Leonian Tracy Coker a Sierra Leonean-American writer who believes that the written word is an art that can open minds and transform hearts. She has published short stories in Rigorous literary journal, Short Fiction Break online literary magazine, and Pede Hollist’s Literature Blog. The winning manuscript White Yams is described thus,

“Funmilayo, Dalanda, and Jeneba were best friends in primary school in Sierra Leone but moved on to various parts of the world – and very different lifestyles. About to turn 40, they plan a Christmas reunion.”

In their comments, the jury said;

Rowan Lawton: I absolutely loved White Yams – Tracy is a hugely talented writer who introduces us to three incredibly memorable women at a pivotal moment in their lives, and I can’t wait to read more about them.

Jo Bloom: I raced through this absorbing, well-written story about three friends originally from Sierra Leone. Tracy also deftly weaves through some powerful cultural themes that I’m still thinking about weeks on…

Marina de Pass: I adore the set up of White Yams – with three distinct female voices, drawn together in friendship, but with different challenges to face. I felt fully involved by the three narratives and taken in by Tracy’s confident writing style.

Speaking exclusively to JamesMurua.com Tracey Coker said on winning the award, “I’m very grateful to have won this award. African stories deserve to be told on large platforms, and I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for my novel, White Yams to receive maximum exposure in the diaspora and on the continent.”

Coker receives a £1,000 cash prize and introduction to agents at The Soho Agency (currently represented by Rowan Lawton).