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Reading List: Books from SI Leeds Literary Prize Shortlisted Writers

Our mission is to create opportunities for Black and Asian female writers in the UK, and raise awareness of their work. Each prize sees six writers make the shortlist, and we’ve featured some incredibly talented authors over the years who have gone on the publish their work to great success.

In this reading list, check out some of the books published by our shortlisted writers. There’s plenty to catch your eye!

My Name is Leon, by Kit de Waal

Recently adapted by the BBC, My Name is Leon was Kit de Waal’s debut novel, which she published after winning the SI Readers’ Choice Award in 2014 with her manuscript Blue in Green.

When their mum can no longer look after them, nine-year-old Leon and his baby half-brother Jake go to like with foster carer, Maureen. But when baby Jake is adopted, Leon is heartbroken, angry and desperate to reunite his family.

Book | Goodreads

Dark Chapter, by Winnie M Li

Dark Chapter placed second in our 2016 competition and was published in 2017. On a sunny afternoon in Belfast, a horrific act of violence changes the lives of two people forever.

This fictional retelling of a true crime is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.

Book | Goodreads

A Secret Sisterhood, by Emily Midorikawa

Written in collaboration with Emma Claire Sweeney, this book explores four literary friendships, which were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

Read about Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Bronte was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

Emily Midorikawa placed joint third in our 2012 prize with her manuscript, A Tiny Speck of Black and then Nothing.

Book | Goodreads

Cygnet, by Season Butler

Season Butler came second in our 2014 prize with her manuscript Hanging from the Hammer of the Bell.

Her debut novel Cygnet is the story of a young woman whose parents left her stranded on Swan Island, home to an eccentric community that is sinking into the ocean, with the promise they would return.

The Kid is left to battle against the thrashing waves of loneliness and depression, and how she learns to find hope, laughter and her own voice in a world that’s crumbling around her.

Book | Goodreads

The Queen, by Anita Sivakumaran

Anita Sivakumaran’s debut novel came third in our 2014 competition.

The Queen follows the ascent of a sixteen-year-old girl to superstardom and her transformation thereafter into a formidable politician. This historical novel is based on real life events.

Book | Goodreads

You can find out more about the books published by SI Leeds Literary Prize winners here.