The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2023

The 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is open for submissions from 27 January until 30 June 2023, 5pm BST.

Exceptionally international in scope, the writing prize supports writers who have not yet published a book-length work, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. The winners of each category will receive a £1,000 cash prize and publication, and will be published in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on Wasafiris 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 writing 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 T S Eliot, Ambit Short Fiction, and Bocas Poetry Prize, among very many others. 

This year, the writing 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 and says he is ‘excited to find strong new voices across a wide range of forms and worlds’. And finally, 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 SummonsThe Kindness of EnemiesThe 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 AliceOrdinary PeopleThe 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. 

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 been shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize, the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar, Hindu Lit for Life Non Fiction Prize, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF 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 FemiAanchal Malhotra © Aashna Malhotra


1: The competition is open to anyone who has not published or signed a contract to publish a book-length work of fiction, life writing, or poetry, except for self-published works or poetry chapbooks.

2: Entries must be in English and must not have been previously published in any form (excluding live performances or shares on personal blogs or social media channels).

3: If entries are published, or accepted for publication, elsewhere between submission and shortlisting, they will no longer be eligible. You must inform us immediately if work submitted to the prize is then accepted for publication elsewhere by emailing wasafirinewwritingprize@qmul.ac.uk.

4: The writing prize is not open to members of the Wasafiri Board or Wasafiri staff, or any individual involved in the administration of the prize, or their families.

5: Entries must be completed through the submissions form no later than 5pm BST on  30 June 2023.

6: Failure to meet the conditions of entry will mean that a submission is automatically disqualified from the competition. Entry fee will not be refunded.

Format of entries 

7:  No entry may exceed 3,000 words.

8: All prizes are for short works, not for novel/memoir extracts. While extracts from longer works are eligible, they must stand alone as complete works in their own right.

9: A single poetry entry can include up to three poems, which together total no more than 3,000 words. Each poem must each be submitted as a separate document.

10: Do not write your name or provide any other form of identification on your manuscript or in the document title. All submissions will be considered anonymously.

11: Work must be typed, in a legible font, font size 12, double-spaced, A4, and submitted as a .doc file or similar.  

12: Manuscripts cannot be altered after submission.


Entries for the writing prize are considered accepted through our website once the fee is paid. All successful submissions will receive an acknowledgement. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, there may have been a problem with your entry; in this case, check your email spam folder, and then contact wasafirinewwritingprize@qmul.ac.uk to confirm successful receipt.

14: We offer subsidised entries for those who would not otherwise be able to enter the prize.

15: Fee is per entry: £10 for a single entry, £16 for a double entry, and £6 for a single subsidised entry. You may make multiple entries if you would like to do so by completing the entry form multiple times.

Read more about the terms and conditions here

Please direct any queries that are not answered by these terms and conditions to wasafirinewwritingprize@qmul.ac.uk. 

Deadline 30th June, 2023

Sounds Interesting? Apply Here

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