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Novel published by Stormzy’s #Merky Books scoops major prize

That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu was labelled a ‘transcendent work of literature’ by judges.

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(Isabel Infantes/PA)

(Isabel Infantes/PA)

(Isabel Infantes/PA)

A book that was published by Stormzy’s imprint has been named as the winner of the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize.

Derek Owusu’s debut novel That Reminds Me was praised by judges for being a “transcendent work of literature”.

It is the first book on the rapper’s #MerkyBooks publishing imprint to win a major award.

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(Josima Senior/PA)

(Josima Senior/PA)

(Josima Senior/PA)

Named after the literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott, the annual prize goes to a first novel written in English and published in the UK.

That Reminds Me uses poetry and verse to tackle poverty, addiction, self-harm and love for family, and is the north London writer and podcaster’s first novel.

Chair of the judging panel and previous Desmond Elliott Prize winner Preti Taneja said the book “is written with a rare style”.

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(Lauren Hurley/PA)

(Lauren Hurley/PA)

PA

(Lauren Hurley/PA)

“Despite the terrors around him, this young black man has an instinctive love for the world that burns at the core of the book,” she added.

“The judges and I were as shattered by the truths of the story as we were moved by the talent of its writer.

“Derek Owusu has given us a unique, profound and transcendent work of literature: we want as many readers as possible to discover it – once they do they will return to again and again.”

Stormzy launched #Merky Books, a collaboration with Penguin Random House, in July 2018.

PA