The 2018 Wasafiri New Writing Prize winners and shortlist

We announced the winners of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2018 on Thursday 25th October at The Blenheim Saloon, Marlborough House. They were:

Plunder by Deidre Shanahan (Fiction)
In the Garden Where the Gorgons Live by Daniella Shokoohi (Poetry)
Diary of a Teenage Boy by Len Lukowski (Life Writing)

Special commendations went to:

The Other Things in the Blood by IfeOluwa Nihinlola (Fiction)
Babes in the Wood by Maeve Henry (Poetry)
Feeding Grief to Animals by Rebecca Parfitt (Life Writing)

The full shortlist:



Dead Tongues by Peter Coles

The Window by Nicki Frith

The Other Things in the Blood by IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Last Evening’s Call From Mother by Melusi Nkomo

Plunder by Deirdre Shanahan


Life Writing

Mountain of the Night by Jo Jackson

Make Sure to See the Exit Door by Miah Jeffra

Diary of a Teenage Boy by Len Lukowski

Feeding Grief to Animals by Rebecca Parfitt

Kalashnikov by Joanna Smith



Things That Are Green by Elena Croitoru

Babes in the Wood by Maeve Henry

Consent by Daniella Shokoohi

In the Garden Where the Gorgons Live by Daniella Shokoohi

Shearing Season by Daniella Shokoohi


The judges were

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

Elleke Boehmer  Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford, Director of OCLW, the Oxford Life Writing Centre, Wolfson College. She is the author, editor or co-editor of over twenty books, including monographs and novels. Her monographs include Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995/2005), Stories of Women (2005), Indian Arrivals (winner ESSE 2015-16 prize). Her novels include The Shouting in the Dark (long-listed Sunday Times prize, 2015), Screens again the Sky (short-listed David Higham Prize 1990). In 2013-15 Elleke was a judge of the International Man Booker Prize.

Malika Booker International writer whose work is steeped in anthropological research methodology and rooted in storytelling. Her writing spans poetry, theatre, monologue, installation, and education. Clients and organisations she has worked with include Arts Council England, BBC, British Council, Wellcome Trust, National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Arvon, and Hampton Court Palace.

Kerry Young Born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Chinese father and mother of mixed Chinese-African heritage. She has a history of non-fiction writing and editing on issues relating to youth work. Kerry has published three novels: Pao (2011) shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize and East Midlands Book Award. Gloria (2013) longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. And Show Me A Mountain (2016).  Kerry is a Reader for The Literary Consultancy, an Arvon Foundation tutor and a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund.

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 2015 Poetry winner Amaal Said: ‘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.’