The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017 Shortlist

We’re delighted to announce the shortlists:


Seven Hells by Zaid Hassan
Bobby by Sarah Frances Armstrong
Sixteen, Seventeen by Max Dunbar
Some Freedom Dreams by Ndinda Kioko
On Day 21 by Ruby Cowling


Petit Navire by Mehran Waheed
Belly Dancer Meets Hilāl as Horseman by Rushda Rafeek
Fisher of Men by Caleb Femi
Where the Weight Catches by Claire Lynn
What Yung Thug’s Colour Theory Best Describes As An Open Wound Or Open Letter by Momtaza Mehri

Life Writing

Crinoline Lady by Julie Abrams-Humphries
Bentong! Go Back to Bentong! by Aliyah Kim Keshani
Mixed Blessings – A Primer by Melissa Fu
The Heavens Also Weep by Sarah Udoh-Grossfurthner
Safe in the Arms of Jesus by Sally St Claire

The awards ceremony will be on Thursday 19th October starting at 6.30pm at The People’s Palace in the Queen Mary University of London campus. Sign up for your free ticket here:


We are delighted to announce that this year’s judges are…

Susheila Nasta MBE (Chair) Founding Editor of WasafiriEmeritus at the Open University and has recently joined Queen Mary College as Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature

Sabrina Mahfouz Award-winning poet, playwright and screenwriter and former Sky Arts Scholar for Poetry, Mahfouz’s work has been performed in the UK and the US

Andrea Stuart Writer and historian, author of Showgirls which was adapted for stage and screen, and the award-winning The Rose of Martinique: A Biography of Napoleon’s Josephine

Boyd Tonkin is an award-winning British writer, journalist and critic who chaired the judging panel of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016 – the English-speaking world’s premier award for translated fiction. He writes for The Observer, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Economist, The Spectator, New Scientist and Newsweek magazine, and contributes to BBC radio.

Background to the prize:

The path to literary success can sometimes seem elusive, even for those with talent. So, in 2009, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize was launched to support new writers, with no limits on age, gender, nationality or background. With a list of high profile judges over the years including Brian Chikwava, Colin Grant, Maya Jaggi, Jackie Kay, Tabish Khair, Toby Litt and Blake Morrison, the NWP has boosted the confidence of writers in competitive times. In the words of one winner: ‘Before I was shortlisted I was … convinced I was never going to write another poem again .. thank you so much for this, I never … want to stop writing.’

The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017 is open for entries!

We welcome submissions in one of three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing (the competition is open to anyone who has not published a complete book in the category entered).

'Before I was shortlisted I was ... convinced I was never going to write another poem again .. thank you so much for this, I never ... want to stop writing.' Amaal Said


NWP 2016

New Writing Prize 2016

The 2016 Wasafiri New Writing Prize winners and shortlist Winners: Niamh MacCabe for Nobody Knows the Shivering Stars (Fiction) Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné for Portrait of my father as a grouper (Poetry) Shiva Rahbaran for Massoumeh: An Iranian Family in Times of Revolution (Life Writing) In addition to…


New Writing Prize 2015

The 2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize winners and shortlist Winners: Uschi Gatward for My Brother is Back (Fiction) Amaal Said for The Girl Grew (Poetry) Louise Kennedy for A Suitable Family (Life Writing) In addition, the following three entrants were given special commendations: Akwaeke Emezi for ‘W…


New Writing Prize 2014

The winners and shortlisted entries There are four winners this year, two of the poems being too close to call. Our congratulations go to: Fiction: The Bearer by Simon van der Velde (UK)  Life Writing:  Seeing Double by Aurvi Sharma (USA) Poetry: Dot by dot of hurt by Pnina Shinebourne (UK) and Firs…


New Writing Prize 2013

Winners: Life Writing  Cliff Chen for Life Exchanges Poetry Anita Pati for A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Stealing Love Fiction Gita Ralleigh for Back at the Museum The winning entries were published in Issue 77 of Wasafiri in February 2014. Shortlist: Life Writing Tool by Mat Woolfenden S…


New Writing Prize 2012

At a special event at Asia House on Wednesday 3 October, John Haynes announced the winners of the 2012 Wasafiri New Writing Prize: David Houston for Wish You Were Here (Life Writing) C S Mee for The Walk (Fiction) Sally St Clair for In the Beginning and the End (Poetry) The winning entries are publi…

NWP 2011

New Writing Prize 2011

The winners of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2011 were announced by Fiction judge Brian Chikwava at a special event at Bush House in London. Winners: Richard Scott for Adin (Poetry) Michael Marett-Crosby for Room 618 (Fiction) Abeer Hoque for’ On Growing (Life Writing) The winning entries are publi…

NWP 2010

New Writing Prize 2010

The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2010 Winners and Shortlist The winners of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize were announced at a special event on October 14, at Somerset House, London. There were four winners this year: Noel Williams for ‘The Anthropology of Loss’ (Poetry) Barabara Jenkins for ‘It’s Cher…

NWP 2009

New Writing Prize 2009

The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2009 Winners and Shortlist The winners of Wasafiri’s prize for new writing were announced by poet and prize judge, Mimi Khalvati, on the 31st October in front of packed audience at the Purcell Room, South Bank, London. Ola Awonubi for ‘The Go Slow Journey’ (Fiction) Ro…



Ndinda Kioko

Some Freedom Dreams by Ndinda Kioko

Some Freedom Dreams Ndinda Kioko Samira wanted me to say yes. She had asked if I could accompany her to an exhibition later that day. Though this was the kind of thing I hated, it was impossible to say no to Samira with my head resting on the softness of her thigh, with her hands twisting my hair in…

Julie Abrams-Humphries

Crinoline Lady by Julie Abrams-Humphries

Crinoline Lady Julie Abrams-Humphries It was 3.30pm on a winter’s day. I heard a scream and pushed open the door. The floral curtains were wide open in our bay window. If Dad had been home, the curtains would have been drawn, he didn’t like people to stare in. He wouldn’t have liked what they could…

Mehran Waheed

Petit Navire by Mehran Waheed

Il était un petit navire Qui n’avait jamais navigué. Ohé! Ohé! (Traditional French children’s song)   Petit Navire by Mehran Waheed Monsters hide beneath your jungle hair, itching to settle like Migrant lice, refugee nits, Islamic ticks burrowed within your scalp. Mixed skin bubbles and bends….

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Green Eyed by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

Green Eyed                                                                                                                             Due to a genetic mutation which occurred 6,000-10,000 years ago, all blue-eyed people share an ancestor from the Caucasian region – Science Daily They say the modern…

Helen de Burca

A Pair of Silk Stockings by Helen de Burca

In exactly two months, it would be her ninety-ninth birthday. This they murmured repeatedly, although sometimes she thought it had been only once. Between bouts of dozing, her eyes wandered over the walls and ceiling, often returning to a tiny wisp of abandoned cobweb in one corner. She liked to let…

Cheryl Anderson

Round Yard by Cheryl Anderson

Chicken a bawl We used to keep chickens in the backyard. They came to us by way of My Uncle Sam’s Ford Cortina; yellow exterior, black roof and two furry dice hanging from the rear view mirror. Class. We, that is my mother’s extended family and me, all lived in a four-bedroom house on Comerford Road…