Zia Haider Rahman's debut novel, In The Light of What We Know, has won Britain's oldest literary prize, the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction. The winners were announced by broadcaster Sally Magnusson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival yesterday evening.

Chairman of the James Tait Black Prize for fiction, Professor Randall Stevenson, of the University of Edinburgh, said of winning fiction entry:

"Zia Haider Rahman addresses a whole range of issues – the war in Afghanistan, the rise of Muslim fundamentalism and the banking crisis. Moreover, he also explores problematic areas of politics and finance, which are often exiled from the pages of fiction, immersing his readers, dauntingly but comprehensibly. The novel’s impressive scope is complemented by Rahman’s ability to locate the personal in the political."

The James Tait Black Prizes are distinctive in the way that they are judged. Each year more than 400 novels are read by academics and postgraduate students who nominate books for the shortlist.

Rosie Nolan, a lead student reader on the judging panel, and postgraduate Literature student at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“The involvement of postgraduate students in the judging process is one of the reasons that the James Tait Black prize has retained its prestige and integrity over so many years. As a student judge, bringing to recognition worthy works of literature restores a sense of how important it is for us all to tell our stories, whether fictional or factual, and have them heard. It is a true privilege to be involved.”

Zia Haider Rahman joins the distinguished list of writers who have won the James Tait Black Prizes, including DH Lawrence, Graham Greene, Angela Carter and Ian McEwan.

Read the first chapter now