2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize Opens for Submissions

By Wasafiri Editor on January 27, 2023 in

Since 2009 the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize has awarded some of the most exciting new voices in fiction, life writing, and poetry from around the world. We are pleased to say that this year’s prize is now open for submissions until 5pm BST on 30 June 2023.

Representing more of the globe than any other prize of its kind, the prize supports writers who have not published book-length works, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. The winners of each category will receive a £1,000 cash prize and publication in Wasafiri magazine, and all winners and shortlistees will be published and offered career development support through prize partners The Literary Consultancy and The Good Literary Agency.

This year’s multi-award-winning judges are Leila Aboulela (Fiction), Diana Evans (Chair), Caleb Femi (Poetry), and Aanchal Malhotra (Life Writing).    

Past winners and shortlistees of the New Writing Prize include the likes of Akwaeke Emezi, Caleb Femi, and Louise Kennedy, who have gone on to score deals with major international publishing houses such as Verso, Peepal Tree Press, and HarperCollins India, and to be shortlisted for and win prizes including the T S Eliot, Ambit Short Fiction, and Bocas Poetry Prize, among many others.  Read more about the 2022 winners here.

This year, the prize will be chaired by literary leading light Diana Evans. Diana will be joined by a truly remarkable panel of multi-award-winning poets and authors. Fiction judge, Leila Aboulela says Wasafiri has always been ahead of its time in recognising the power of literature to capture global movements and interconnections. It will be exciting to read talented entries from all over the world and find out what is really going on behind the media’s attention-grabbing headlines!’Caleb Femi, who is judging the 2023 poetry category, is himself a former shortlistee of the Prize in the poetry category, says he is ‘excited to find strong new voices across a wide range of forms and worlds’. And, Aanchal Malhotra is looking forward to ‘reading pieces that are inventive and excavative, exploring the abundant landscape of Life Writing today’ as a judge in that category.

Read the terms and conditions and enter the prize here. 


About the judges 

Leila Aboulela (Fiction), Diana Evans (Chair), Caleb Femi (Poetry), Aanchal Malhotra (Life Writing)


Leila Aboulela is the first ever winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Nominated three times for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction), her novels include Bird Summons, The Kindness of Enemies, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year,Minaret and Lyrics Alley, which was Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. Her short story collection Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year. Leila’s work has been translated into fifteen languages. Her sixth novel, River Spirit, set in Sudan in the lead up to the British invasion of 1898, is due for publication in March 2023. Leila grew up in Khartoum, Sudan and now lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. 

Diana Evans is the author of the novels A House for Alice, Ordinary People, The Wonder and 26a, which was the inaugural winner of the Orange Award for New Writers. Ordinary People won the 2019 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. She also publishes stories, essays and criticism, is associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  www.diana-evans.com 

Raised on the North Peckham estate in South London, Caleb Femi is a poet and director. His debut collection, Poor, was published in 2020 by Penguin Press. He has written and directed short films for the BBC, Channel 4, Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton. A former Young People’s Laureate, Caleb won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2021) and has been shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize (2021), and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize (2021). He has been featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. 

Aanchal Malhotra is a writer and oral historian from New Delhi. She is the co-founder of the Museum of Material Memory, and the author of two critically acclaimed books, Remnants of Partition and In the Language of Remembering, that explore the human history and generational impact of the 1947 Partition. Her work has won the Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award, and has been shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize, the Sahitya Yuva Puraskar, Hindu Lit for Life Non Fiction Prize, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NF Book Prize and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. Her newest work is a debut novel titled The Book of Everlasting Things.

Photo credits: Leila Aboulela © Rania Rustom, Diana Evans © Charlie Hopkinson, Caleb Femi © Caleb Femi, Aanchal Malhotra © Aashna Malhotra


Click here more information on submitting for the 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize.