The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize

The 2021 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is now closed. The shortlist has been announced here, and you can sign up to our newsletter, or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to be notified when the winners are announced, and when the 2022 prize opens. 

About the prize

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 received a £1,000 cash prize and will be published by Wasafiri in print. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on the Wasafiri website. All fifteen shortlistees and winners will also be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility), and a conversation with Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency to discuss their career progression.  

Every writer recognised by the prize, running since 2009, remains part of the Wasafiri community, and is supported by the magazine as their career grows. Past winners and shortlistees 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 TS Eliot Prize, Ambit Short Fiction, and Bocas Poetry Prize, among very many others. 

This year, the prize will be judged by renowned poet Tishani Doshi (Poet), prizewinning author Hirsh Sawhney (Fiction), bestselling novelist and memoirist Christie Watson (Life Writing), and accomplished writer and Professor of Creative Writing Andrew Cowan (Chair). 

About the 2021 judges

Photographs of the judges

Left to right: Christie Watson (photo by Peter Clark), Tishani Doshi (photo by Carlo Pizzati), Hirsh Sawhney (photo by Hemant Sareen), Andrew Cowan (photo by Martin Figura)

Andrew Cowan is a novelist and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and has taught creative writing all over the world. His first novel Pig was published in 1994 and received multiple national awards. Including a Betty Trask Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. It was followed by much-celebrated novels Common Ground (1996), Crustaceans (2000), What I Know (2005), and Worthless Men(2013), and Your Fault (2019). He has also written a creative writing guidebook, The Art of Writing Fiction, and he is currently completing the monograph Against Creative Writing. 

Tishani  Doshi is Welsh-Gujarati  poet, novelist, and dancer. Her most recent books are Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Poetry Award, and a novel, Small Days and Nights, shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and a New York Times Bestsellers Editor’s Choice. God at the Door (Bloodaxe Books), her fourth collection of poems, is forthcoming in spring 2021. She lives in Tamil Nadu, India.  

Hirsh Sawhney’s writing has appeared in international anthologies and periodicals including the Times Literary SupplementThe New York Times Book ReviewThe Guardian, the Indian Express, the Financial TimesOutlook, and many more. His novel South Haven was nominated for the 2017 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and he is the editor of the fiction anthology Delhi NoirHe currently lives in New Haven, Connecticut and teaches at Wesleyan University. 

Christie Watson is an award-winning and bestselling writer of fiction and non-fiction. She has been a nurse for over twenty years and is currently Professor of Medical and Health Humanities at UEA. Her work has been translated into twenty-three languages. 

The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is supported by Queen Mary University of London and Routledge. 


'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, past winner of the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize


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