Pat Kavanagh Prize for writer Amna Jatoi

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London-based writer and Goldsmiths alumna Amna Jatoi has won the Pat Kavanagh Prize 2023, for her work in progress, titled 'Us'.

Audience seated at the Pat Kavanagh Prize 2023 awards


The Pat Kavanagh Prize commemorates literary agent Pat Kavanagh, who sadly passed away in 2008. The annual prize recognises the excellence of students on the MA in creative and life writing programme by awarding the winning student with £500.

Now in its 14th year, the prize is a partnership between the English and Creative Writing department and United Agents, of which Pat Kavanagh was a founding member.

Amna Jatoi, the winner of the prize this year, said: "I'm delighted to have won the Pat Kavanagh prize. My time at Goldsmiths was invaluable. Over the two years, I broadened and deepened my writing practice, experimenting with form, having the chance to look at translation theories, and finding the right voices for the characters of my novel."

Introducing the event, Professor Blake Morrison said of the late Pat Kavanagh: “She was, right until the end, someone who continued to take on new writers. She always nurtured new talents and that’s why it seemed so appropriate to set up a prize in her name because it's given to graduates of our MA creative writing programme, talented authors who are usually at the beginning of their career.”

Each year, the United Agents Books Department narrows a longlist of work by the course's highest performing students down to a select shortlist, before picking one winner judged to have written the strongest overall piece.

The shortlist for 2023, described by judges as "one of the strongest" in its 14-year history, included Fahad Al-Amoudi, Euan Ferguson, Amna Jatoi, Melissa Richards, Molly Underwood and Sharmini Wijesekera. At a ceremony held on campus on January 25, the six shortlisted students read extracts of their writing, before the winner of the prize was revealed as Amna Jatoi. 

Amna Jatoi moved from Islamabad to London eleven years ago to be a political analyst and international civil servant. Her novel in progress ‘Us’ is set in Pakistan and focuses on how young people navigate adulthood in conservative societies. Anna takes inspiration from recent writings such as the political fiction of Claire Keegan and the essay of Emilie Pine.

Accepting the Prize at the event, Amna said: “A massive thank you to United Agents and all of the Tutors that I worked with, most are in the room but some aren’t… and all the students as well. I couldn’t have done it without everyone so thank you so much.”

Previous winners of the Prize include Imogen Fox, Jonathan Holt, David Nash, Giovanna Iozzi, Julia Rotte, Luiza Sauma, Paul Carney, Bex Barton, Karen Raney, Kate Kerrow, Lisa Smith, Aileen Maguire and Kaelyn Sabal Wilson. Winning the Pat Kavanagh Prize has acted as a catalyst for the publication for work by many of these writers.