Memoir: First Chapters Winners

Memoir: First Chapters Winners

Top 4 Memoir: First Chapter Entries

Our judge, Nicole Treska, had this to say about the standard of entries, and the winners:

‘I was honored to judge the 2024 Plaza Memoir: First Chapters Prize. This year’s finalists transported me from my apartment in Harlem to beachfront hotel rooms under terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, and a somehow almost-as-menacing middle school lunchroom in England. Each of these submission displayed ruminations on memory, societal and personal illnesses, mortality and grief—all our eternal sources. At the same time, I saw these writers grapple with our modern maladies—financial instability, class and race status, and the failures on the systems we depend upon. This combination of created a rich reading experience, and much hope for the future of the genre.

‘It is no small feat to commit our searching questions, our fears and faults, to the page and share them with others, let alone in ways so thoughtful, funny, sad and hopeful. I applaud each contestant for the bravery to tell their story whole, as well as all of our contestants. Thank you for your work and congratulations.’

1st-Enter the Dragon Lady by J. Ho (UK)
‘I absolutely loved Enter the Dragon, and the way the author sets a scene, and executes her points with exacting language. The piece is sad and funny and probes at the underbelly of racism, assimilation, and the childhood need to fit in. I was moved by lines like: “But, aside from having face that is flat or yellow or wonky, I’m not sure what being Chinese really is. It’s a bit like being ugly, but heavy too, weighed down by something that I can’t see and don’t understand.” Looking forward to our Zoom meeting to discuss my one question: Do we need the survival myth?…(my initial suspicion is no.)’

2nd-Nobody Walks In America Anymore by N. Yacoob (UK)
‘I loved this big adventure! NWiA is executed with a fine attention to detail, and skillful pacing and narration, I was so impressed with both the content of this excerpt, and the execution. I thought the development of scenes within the larger narrative were expertly handled, no small feat. I want to read this book.’

3rd-True Story of a Circus Freak by R. Plume (UK)
‘I wanted to keep listening to TSoaCF after the piece ended.The authors storytelling style showed a child learning about the world in ways that were original and entertaining, even when discussing the heavy or painful realizations that children often have about others and themselves.There is a wisdom in our narrator and her child self that is evident, ePlaven when the narrative seems light and fun. Sue Maroo Goes for a Walk is such an excellent chapter and example of this. The way that story encapsulates the author/book’s world—her influences, her language and lessons—quite masterful.’

4th (Highly Commended)-The Drive-In by A. Sincic (US)
‘I loved the language in this story, and I especially loved the way the author drew scenes. The dialogue and details created a family I could see on the page. I found the syntax exciting, and really enjoyed it…funnily enough, my two editorial comments have to do with these two aspects I enjoyed so much. I think the current passage leans too heavily on dialogue, and some of it isn’t communicating enough important intel…I’d cut back, there! Also, the syntax, perhaps my favorite aspect of this piece- is very dense in the first few pages…it relaxes into more natural story-telling a few pages in, and I would suggest giving those first few pages the same space to breathe. I think tightening and lightening here and there will do wonders for this wonderful family story.’

Congrats to our winners! The winner will get mentoring from Nicole on their work. And £1,500. Not a bad prize.

Speaking of which – We have an unbeatable world class opportunity to shine. ENTER the NEW 2024 Plaza Literary: First Chapters Prize (5000 words max). OPEN NOW. Judged by US National Book Award Winner, Jason Mott. 1st prize: £1,500. Deadline: 31st July 2024.