The Jhalak Prize to celebrate the best books written by BME writers

A new prize celebrating the best book written by a writer of colour has been launched today.

The Jhalak Prize is the first literary prize to open only to BME writers and will award £1,000 to the winner on an annual basis. Founded by authors, Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla along with Media Diversified and The Authors’ Club, the prize has been made possible with the  generous help of an anonymous benefactor.

Chair of judges, Sunny Singh said: ‘When the marginalised demand structural change, our demands are fobbed off with being told to ‘do something for ourselves.’ The Jhalak Prize is precisely ‘doing something.’ The prize will recognize, reward and honour literary talent and achievement by British writers of
colour who are often ignored, overlooked and erased. I hope it not only stops the patronizing suggestions that we aren’t taking action but also inspire the publishing industry to look beyond the present narrow margins.’ Singh also outlined her reasons for setting up the prize in a blog for The Bookseller.

Prize director, Nikesh Shukla said: ‘Given that the response to calls for equality and diversity, as echoed by Kristen Stewart in
the run-up to the Oscars, patronisingly tell us to get up and do something, here we are, a group of like-minded souls, doing something. I’m sick of being interviewed about inclusion, doing panels about inclusion, tweeting hot takes about inclusion. This is me doing something.’

Last year, Writing The Future report, commissioned by Spread The Word, highlighted the need for the industry to do more to promote BME writers and made a number of recommendations to tackle its lack of diversity. But ten months on, very little appears to have changed at an industry level. The hope is, a new prize for marginalised writers will not only show the industry that action is being taken, but will also help published writers find new audiences for their books.

The prize will be open for submissions between 1st September 2016 and 30th November 2016 for books published between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2016.  Eligible titles include (and not be limited to) fiction, non-fiction, short story, graphic novel, poetry, children’s books, YA, teen and all genres. The prize will also be open to self-published writers. The books must have been published in the UK in that year, and originally published 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.

Jhalak means ‘glimpse’; implicitly brief, often tantalising with promise, piquing curiosity to explore further.