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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The SI Leeds Literary Prize is an award for unpublished fiction by UK-based Black and Asian women, aged 18 and above.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.

The Prize recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and this short film tells you more about the impact of the Prize on some of its winning writers:


This film tells you more about the Prize, why it was set up, who it supports and we meet some of the many writers, partners and organisations who work with us to make the Prize happen:

With the help of our partners, shortlisted writers take part in a programme of craft and career development, the Prize Plus programme. Many of our entrants have gone on to land publishing deals, agents, and critical acclaim for their writing. Watch Prize Director, Fiona Goh, introduce the Prize and explain the role it plays in the UK’s literary ecology.

The Prize is awarded biennially, and the last award – the sixth edition of the Prize – was made in October 2022.  The 2024 Prize is open from entries from 1 April – 13 May using this link so please spread the word.

The prizes in 2024 will be as follows:

£4,000 for the 1st Prize, plus a free place on an Arvon creative writing course, and manuscript assessment through The Literary Consultancy.  The manuscript will be given serious consideration for publication through Peepal Tree Press, should this be considered the best fit for the book.

£2,000 for the runner-up and £1,000 for the third-placed writer, and manuscript assessment through The Literary Consultancy.

In addition, all long listed entrants will be offered a tailored package of support through the unique Prize Plus programme of writer development, includes coaching sessions from The Literary Consultancy, The Written Academy and Anna Caig, covering craft and career development, developing a writing habit that lasts, and maximising your marketing potential.  We will be repeating our successful mentoring scheme, matching selected writers from the 2024 longest with previous Prize alumnae.  Our partners have explained why they work with the Prize, and tell us a little bit about the support they offer: watch Andrew Kidd from Arvon, Aki Schilz from The Literary Consultancy and Will Mackie of New Writing North talk about their relationships with the Prize.

2022 award

The 2022 The Opportunity Centre 1st Prize was awarded to Suad Kamardeen for ‘Never Enough’. Latoyah Innerarity won 2nd prize for ‘Sometimes the Sky is Blue’ and third prize and the SI Readers’ Choice award, chosen by over 80 readers, went to Laura Fish for ‘Lying Perfectly Still.’ Arianne Maki‘s The Taste of a Planet, Oluwaseun Oluwatosin Akinsiku‘s Aralola Will Be Absolutely Fine and Nazira Vania‘s When You’re Smiling were shortlisted, and you can watch all the shortlisted readings here.

2020 award

The 2020 Aspire-igen 1st Prize was awarded to Wenyan Lu for ‘The Funeral Cryer’. LM Dillsworth won 2nd prize for ‘The Sun Sets in the East’ and third prize went to Sumana Khan for ‘The Good Twin’.  The SI Readers’ Choice award was given to Sumana Khan for ‘The Good Twin’, being the favourite shortlisted entry as chosen by over 40 readers, including members from Soroptimist International.  Nana Afua Pierre‘s ‘A boy called Silence’, Aisha Phoenix‘s ‘Bat Monkey and Other Stories’ and Huma Qureshi‘s ‘Things We Do Not Tell The People We Love’ were shortlisted and you can see all the shortlisted readings here.

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

Our 2020 Prizewinner, Wenyan Lu, had her winning entry The Funeral Cryer, published in 2023 by Allen & Unwin.  Our 2022 SI Readers’ Choice winning entry, Lying Perfectly Still by Laura Fish, will be published in October 2024.  Stella Oni (Ahmadou)’s 2016 shortlisted entry, Deadly Sacrifice, was published in 2020.

Our 2014 Prizewinner, Mahsuda Snaith, signed a two-book deal with Transworld publishers. Her award-winning entry, The Constellation of Ravine Roy, was 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. We were delighted that Mahsuda funded a series of bursaries for low income writers to enter the 2020 Prize, as well as chairing an event for the 2020 shortlist at the online Home by 10 Fest in October 2020.  Watch Mahsuda explain what the Prize means to her.

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.  Watch Kit explain what the Prize means to her, and the role that prizes play in writer development.

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; Finding Rose was published in 2019 and Unladylike Lessons in Love was published in 2023.

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. Watch Val Saunders of SI Leeds explain why SI Leeds set up the Prize, and how it fits with their work.

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.  Watch Erica Morris of Ilkley Literature Festival explain the Festival’s involvement with the Prize and Hannah Bannister of Peepal Tree Press on the role the Prize plays in the industry.

The SI Leeds Literary Prize is funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants and sponsorship from The Opportunity Centre, a Yorkshire-based social enterprise. Watch Stephen May of Arts Council England discuss why ACE supports the Prize and how it fits with its funding through National Lottery Project Grants.