Authors Sunny Singh and Catherine Johnson have been revealed as judges of the inaugural Jhalak Prize for Best Book by a Writer of Colour alongside Alex Wheatle, Musa Okwonga and Yvette Edwards.
Chaired by author and co-founder of the award Singh, the panel will consist of YA author Johnson; author and poet Wheatle MBE; poet and broadcaster Okwonga; and Man Booker Prize-longlisted fiction writer Edwards.
Singh said: “The need for the Jhalak Prize has grown ever more urgent, especially in the aftermath of Brexit and the subsequent horrific rise in xenophobia. The full range of stories about all that contemporary Britain is, and all it can and will become, is more necessary than ever. The Jhalak Prize will not only recognise and reward the achievements of British writers of colour but hopefully also encourage many more on their journey to literary excellence.”
Founded by Singh and fellow author Nikesh Shukla, in conjunction with Media Diversified and with support from the Authors’ Club, the award exists to celebrate the achievements of British writers of colour. The overall winner will be presented with a prize of £1,000, which has been donated by an anonymous benefactor.
The prize will accept entries published in the UK by writers of colour, including - but not limited to - fiction, nonfiction, short stories, graphic novels, poetry, children’s books, YA, teen and all other genres. The prize will also be open to self-published writers.
Okwonga said: “This award is vital, as it will help us to find writers of the highest quality from a range of backgrounds currently under-represented in the publishing industry. It will be an honour and privilege to act as a judge; and, given what I’m about to read, it will also be a joy.”
Edwards said: “Amidst current discussions around how exactly we go about tackling the lack of diversity in publishing, I am absolutely thrilled to have been invited to join the panel that will be judging the inaugural Jhalak Prize, and excited to play my part in raising the profiles of writers of colour. I will be seeking to identify the most dynamic and engaging writing across the genres that is in itself worthy of attention, promotion and readership. I am passionate about writing that is original and accessible, likely to stand the test of time, and that readers will not only want to read, but wholeheartedly recommend afterwards.”
The prize will be open for submissions between 1st September and 15th December 2016 for books published between 1st January and 31st December 2016. The books must have been published in the UK in that year, and have originally appeared in English. The author of the work must have been resident in the UK for a minimum of the calendar year in which the book is eligible.