Mendez to judge W&A Working-Class Writers Prize

Mendez to judge W&A Working-Class Writers Prize

Author Paul Mendez is to judge this year's Writers & Artists (W&A) Working-Class Writers’ Prize, which returns this summer.

As part of the prize, which seeks to celebrate and highlight new writing from working-class writers, Mendez, whose debut Rainbow Milk (Dialogue Books) was released last year, will offer a mentoring session to the winner. 

The winners will also receive a cash prize of £200, access to a number of writing and publishing events, one year’s membership to The Society of Authors, a full stack of all the Dialogue Books hardbacks from the past 12 months, a writing guide bundle and a selection of Bloomsbury books.

Now in its third year, the prize has seen its winners go on to establish successful careers. Inaugural winner Lucy Kissick recently secured literary representation and a two-book deal with Gollancz for her debut novel, Plutoshine, while last year’s judge Lisa McInerney continues to mentor Steve Hennessy, who won the 2020 prize with his contemporary retelling of "Othello".

Clare Povey, editorial and communities manager and prize creator, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to bring back this prize for the third year running. This prize was created to shine a light on writing talent and to support writers from working-class backgrounds as they navigate the often opaque structures of publishing. As the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook has been a standard-bearer within UK publishing for over a century, it is imperative that we take our share of responsibility for making sure doors remain open, not closed."

Commenting on Mendez's role as the judge, Povey said: “Rainbow Milk is one of the most incredible books that I’ve read in a long time. The intersectional focus in Paul Mendez’s writing will make him an incredible judge for the 2021 prize. We’re honoured to have him on board.” 

Applicants should submit a sample of their writing, which must be the beginning of an unpublished work-in-progress no more than 2,000 words in length. They should consider themselves to be from a working-class background, be over 18 and living in the UK or Ireland, and not have a publishing contract or an agent.

The closing date for entries is midnight 16th July. Shortlisted entries will be announced on on 30th July. The winning entry, as chosen by Mendez, will be announced at the end of August.