The Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour celebrates its third year with a 2019 longlist that boasts twelve books about belonging. They do not just question belonging but stake a claim for being part of this country, its past, present and future, with all the complexity it entails. Books about architecture, the Windrush generation, colonialism and Singaporean B-movies are amongst the longlist vying for the £1,000 prize. Last year’s winner was Reni Eddo-Lodge for her era-defining book, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race.
The judges for the 2019 prize are playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz, journalist and editor Sarah Shaffi, poet and producer Siana Bangura, and children’s and YA author Anna Perera.
The 2019 longlist is:
Roma Agrawal, Built : The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures (Bloomsbury)
Akala, Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of the Empire (Two Roads)
Raymond Antrobus, The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins)
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff (ed.), Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children (Headline/Hachette)
Yrsa Daley-Ward, The Terrible (Penguin)
Aminatta Forna, Happiness (Bloomsbury)
Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder)
Afua Hirsch, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging (Vintage)
Damian Le Bas, Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain (Chatto & Windus)
Roy McFarlane, The Healing Next Time (Nine Arches)
Onjali Q. Rauf, The Boy At The Back of The Class (Hachette Childrens)
Sharlene Teo, Ponti (Picador)
Judge Anna Perera said of the longlist: ‘Liberated from the usual controlling influences, there is no bottom of the list for the top twelve books for the Jhalak Prize and many more that didn’t quite make it. The craving for good material ends here’
Meanwhile judge Sarah Shaffi said: ‘I’ve been struck by the exceptional quality of the work submitted for the 2019 Jhalak Prize, as well as its varied story and subject matter – it’s been a pleasure to read the submissions and find some real hidden gems. It’s clear that as society grapples with big issues of identity and belonging, writers of colour are addressing these – and many other topics – with extraordinary insight across fiction and non-fiction.’
Poet and judge Siana Bangura said: ‘It has been a brilliant experience so far reading all the submissions to this year’s Jhalak Prize. All the books we’ve longlisted are some of the best and strongest examples of what their categories have to offer. These books made my heart sing, moved me deeply and taught me something new or offered a fresh perspective on things I already (thought I) knew. I can’t wait to whittle down to the shortlist!’
Playwright and judge Sabrina Mahfouz said: ‘I’ve laughed, cried, had my mind changed, my eyes opened and my heart broken by the books submitted for the Jhalak Prize this year. We are so lucky to have such brilliant writers making this incredible work and hope as many readers as possible get to enjoy this longlist as much as I did.’
Founded by the authors Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla in association with Media Diversified, with support from the Authors’ Club and a prize donated by an anonymous benefactor, the award exists to celebrate the achievements of British writers of colour.
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