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17 September 2021

2021 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize Shortlist Announced

Fifteen writers across three genres have been shortlisted for the prestigious and uniquely international Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize, this year judged by Hirsh Sawhney (Fiction), Christie Watson (Life Writing), and Tishani Doshi (Poetry), and chaired by Andrew Cowan  Shortlistees for the prize win a package of ongoing support, including not only publication on, but mentoring and further career support from Wasafiri partners The Literary Consultancy and The Good Literary Agency. Of the shortlist, chair Andrew Cowan said,  

What a pleasure it was to encounter these works, and to discuss them with my fellow judges. If there was a common theme it was the fragility of our belonging, and our vulnerability to loss.  Each in their very different way seemed to speak to our ‘moment’. And yet each reminded us of the power of literature to reveal new horizons, new possibilities, to bring us into conversation.   

In 2021, the prize drew unprecedented attention from younger writers, with entries from new writers under twenty almost doubling. This is reflected in the shortlist, which features writers across an exceptionally broad age range.  The shortlisted writers, from eight countries across four continents, are:  

Fiction judged by Hirsh Sawhney 

Kate Carne  for ‘First to Go’ 

Riddhi Dastidar for ‘Fuck Marry Kill’  

Bhavika Govil for ‘Eggs keep falling from the fourth floor’ 

Mónica Ibarra Parle for ‘The Claws Come First’ 

Anam Raheem for ‘Tessellation’ 

Life Writing judged by Christie Watson 

Anne O’Brien for ‘Swallow’ 

Dalbinder Kular for ‘The Prediction’ 

Usha Rungoo for ‘The Song of Life’ 

Damion Spencer for ‘Death Comes in Threes’ 

Shamini Sriskandarajah for ‘Hazel and Fiver’ 

Poetry judged by Tishani Doshi 

Jordan Hamel for ‘If you read this backwards blood becomes wine’ 

Asmaa Jama for ‘Autopsy’ 

Shereen Leanne for ‘almost-shahrazad: part one’ 

Dipanjali Roy for ‘सफ़रनामा / safarnama' 

Dorsía Smith Silva ‘Ghost Talker Poem’ 

The winners will be announced on 14 October 2021. Shortlisted pieces will be published over the coming months and you will be able to read the winning pieces in full in the Spring 2022 issue of Wasafiri. Sign up to our newsletter to be notified when these excellent pieces of new writing are available to read.   The 2022 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize will open in January.  For further information or to interview our shortlisted writers, contact: Emily Mercer at 
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