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Prize judges

The judging panel for the 2018 SI Leeds Literary Prize is:

Kadija George

Kadija George

Kadija George is a literary activist of Sierra Leonean descent.  In 2001 she founded SABLE LitMag.

Kadija has edited several important anthologies, including Burning Words, Flaming Images (1996); IC3: the Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (2000), co-edited with Courttia Newland; and Write Black, Write British (2005). She is also the Manager of Inscribe publications for Inscribe, a writer development programme housed by Peepal Tree Press, and will be editing a collection of short stories set in Africa for Comma Press. In spring 2013 Peepal Tree press published her debut poetry collection, Irki under her writing name, Kadija Sesay.

She has judged several writing competitions including: SAGA (new Black British novelists); Young Black Achievers Award (Cambridge University Creative Writing); Kasa-Kasa (Ghana Nottingham Link); John La Rose Short Story competition; Non-Fiction competition for the Pan African Literary Forum; Kwani Prize 2013 (Kenya) and the 2014 SI Prize. She was the Chair of judges for the 2016 SI Leeds Literary Prize.

She is currently an AHRC/TECHNE scholarship student, researching Black British Publishers at Brighton University.


Professor Susheila Nasta MBE

Professor Susheila Nasta MBE is Editor-in-Chief of Wasafiri – one of Britain’s key literary magazines focusing on diaspora, migration and contemporary international writing – which she founded in 1984.

A critic and literary activist, she was born in London but subsequently spent several years in India, Germany and Holland before completing her education in Britain at the Universities of Kent and London. She has published widely on Caribbean, South Asian and black British writing.  Books include: Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain (Palgrave, 2002); Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (Routledge, 2004), India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections 1858–1950 (Palgrave 2012) and Asian Britain: A Photographic History (Westbourne Press, 2013). She is currently co-editing the first Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing and writing a group biography The Bloomsbury Indians.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she has judged a number of literary prizes, written for the Guardian and Independent, and appeared on BBC Radio’s Nightwaves and Woman’s Hour. In 2011, she received an MBE for her services to Black and Asian literature.  She is currently Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary College, University of London where Wasafiri is now based.

Sharmaine Lovegrove

Sharmaine Lovegrove is the Publisher of Dialogue Books, the UK’s only inclusive imprint, part of Little, Brown Book Group and Hachette UK.  Prior to going in-house Sharmaine was the Co-Founder and Publishing Director of Dialogue Scouting, the UK’s first book to film & TV scouting consultancy, as well as being ELLE’s Literary Editor.

Her path is drawn from all things innovative in storytelling and in 2008, Sharmaine set up her own bookshop as well as a creative agency in Berlin, having worked previously in PR, bookselling, event management and digital consultancy.

Home is London and her roots are Jamaican and books make her part of the world. 

Winnie M Li

Winnie M Li

Winnie M Li is an author and activist, who has worked in the creative industries on three continents.  Taiwanese-American and raised in New Jersey, Winnie studied Folklore and Mythology at Harvard, and later Irish Literature as a George Mitchell Scholar. Since then, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature films, programmed for film festivals, and developed eco-tourism projects. After earning an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, she now writes across a range of media, including fiction, theatre, journalism, and memoir. Her debut novel Dark Chapter, inspired by her own experience of rape, was published in the UK by Legend Press in 2017.  It won 2nd place in the 2016 SI Leeds Literary Prize and was voted winner of The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2017. Translation rights have been sold for eight languages. Dark Chapter is currently nominated for the Edgar Awards for Best First Novel, the premier awards for mystery and crime writing in the US.

Currently, Winnie is a PhD researcher in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, researching the uses of social media by rape survivors. She is also Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Clear Lines Festival, the UK’s first-ever festival addressing sexual assault and consent through the arts and discussion. Twitter: @winniemli