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About the Prize

About the SI Leeds Literary Prize

The SI Leeds Literary Prize is an award for unpublished fiction by UK-based Black and Asian women, aged 18 and above. Our aim is to act as a loudspeaker for fresh and original literary voices from an under-represented group, and to help them reach new audiences in mainstream culture. With the help of our partners, shortlisted writers take part in a programme of craft and career development. Many of our entrants have gone on to land publishing deals, agents, and critical acclaim for their writing.

The Prize is awarded biennially, and the last award was made in 2018.  The 2020 Prize was launched in the autumn of 2019, and entries closed on 30 April.  Judges are currently reading the manuscripts; the long listed entries have now been announced and we will be announcing the short listed entries in August – please watch this space!

The prizes in 2018 were as follows:

£3,000 for the 1st Prize Aspire-igen award, plus a free place on an Arvon creative writing course, and manuscript assessment through The Literary Consultancy.

£1,250 for the runner-up and £750 for the third-placed writer, and manuscript assessment through The Literary Consultancy.

Shortlisted entrants will be supported through the Prize Plus programme of writer development. They will be offered 1:1 writer development sessions through Inscribe as well as the opportunity to join other great networking and development opportunities through our partners New Writing North.

2018 award

The 2018 Aspire-igen Prize was awarded to Shereen Tadros for ‘Say Goodbye to Her’.  Yvonne Singh won 2nd prize for ‘One Man’s Revolution’ and third prize went to Kavita Bhanot for ‘Baba Ji on Boulton Road’.  The SI Readers’ Choice award was given to Omega Douglas for ‘Hibiscus, Rose, Jacaranda’, having the top number of votes from a range of Soroptimist International readers from across the UK.  Mona Dash‘s ‘Let us Look Elsewhere’ and Yoanna Pak‘s ‘Wolnam’ were also shortlisted.

2016 award

The 2016 Prize was awarded to Amita Murray for ‘Marmite and Mango Chutney’.   Winnie M Li won 2nd prize for ‘Dark Chapter’ and Jamilah Ahmed won 3rd prize and the SI Readers’ Choice award for ‘Recognising Strangers’.  Stella Ahmadou‘s ‘Deadly Sacrifice’, Fran Clark‘s ‘When Skies are Grey’ and Harkiran Dhindsa‘s ‘Our Staggering Minds,’ were also shortlisted.

Update on our alumni

Congratulations to Stella Ahmadou from our 2016 shortlist, who has signed a contract with Jacaranda to publish her shortlisted entry, Deadly Sacrifice, in 2020.

The 2014 Prizewinner, Mahsuda Snaith, has signed a two-book deal with Transworld publishers. Her award-winning entry, The Constellation of Ravine Roy, has been published by Doubleday as Things We Thought We Knew and her follow-up novel, How to Find Home, was featured as BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime in 2019.

Season Butler won second prize in 2014 for Hanging from the Hammer of the Bell. Season has a publishing contract with Dialogue Books for her new novel Cygnet.

Kit de Waal won the SI Readers’ Choice award in 2014, as the favourite manuscript of readers drawn from Soroptimist International membership, for Blue in Green. Kit has a three-book deal with Penguin. Her debut novel My Name is Leon was published by Viking to critical acclaim. Her novel, The Trick to Time, was longlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

2016 runner-up and 2018 judge, Winnie M Li’s entry Dark Chapter won the 2017 Not the Booker Prize. It has been published by Legend Press.

2016 winner Amita Murray has signed a two-book deal with Harper Collins and Finding Rose was published in 2019.

Founders and core partners

The Prize is an initiative of Soroptimist International of Leeds, an organisation dedicated to the development and support of women.  Soroptimist International helps women across the world achieve their potential and have an equal voice. These principles are embedded in the SI Leeds Literary Prize.

We work in partnership with Yorkshire-based literature organisations, Ilkley Literature Festival and Peepal Tree Press.  These organisations have a track record in literature development and are committed to promoting and developing black and minority ethnic writers.

The SI Leeds Literary Prize is funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants and sponsorship from aspire-igen, a Yorkshire-based social enterprise.