A CITY cookery teacher has won a prestigious national writing prize.

Sumayya Usmani, who runs Kaleyard, Glasgow’s first non-profit social enterprise cook school, is the recipient of Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2021.

Originally from Pakistan, Sumayya spent her early childhood on merchant navy vessels and reading and cooking with her mother acted as an escape from life on the ships.

After practising law for 12 years in Karachi and London, she turned to writing in the hope of inspiring others through ‘personal and human stories of food, culture and history.’

Sumayya, who has published two cookbooks on Pakistani cuisine, is currently working on a food memoir, Andaza, about her life growing up on the sea and in Pakistan, around food and women.

The book is set against the backdrop of political unrest and challenges of the country during the 1980s, from times of Zia ul Haq to Benazir Bhutto.

Sumayya, who lives in Clarkston, said: “I’m honoured to win this award and thank Scottish Book Trust for this incredible opportunity.

“Winning has not only given me confidence in my writing but also reinforced my belief that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. This award will act as a stepping stone to a lifelong career as a narrative writer.”

Sumayya set up Kaleyard in Toryglen to help end social isolation through a range of initiatives encouraging the community to cook and eat together.

She has worked with a number of city schools, including St. Oswald’s Secondary in Castlemilk and Corpus Christi Primary and all our profits from masterclasses and events are re-invested into providing classes for the socially isolated, children and the disadvantaged.

Previous winners of the Next Chapter Award include fellow Glasgow authors Gail Honeyman, bestseller author of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Ryan O’Connor, whose debut novel The Voids will be published in 2022.

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The Next Chapter Award will provide Sumayya with a £2000 bursary and nine months of mentoring and online training, with the aim of developing her collection to publication standard.

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:“The Next Chapter Award supports writers aged over 40 because we recognise that it is never too late to pick up a pen and write that dream novel.

“Congratulations to Sumayya from all of us at Scottish Book Trust: we look forward to your memoir about your incredible story, and we hope it inspires others to write about their own experiences.”