The UK’s Jhalak Prize Adds a Children’s and YA Honor for 2021

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The Jhalak Prize program, for five years honoring writers of color, this year adds a specific new recognition for children’s and YA books.

On Blackfriars Bridge, London, March 3. Image – iStockphoto: VV Shots

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Two Prizes for Writers of Color
Today (March 9) announcing the longlist for its fifth annual prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color, the United Kingdom’s Jhalak Prize is also opening a second award, one for children’s and young adult work, that one issuing its first longlist.

Since 2017, the program has awarded its main prize, setting the course for its recognition of books by British BAME writers, those who are Black, Asian, and of minority ethnicities.

In a note said to be from the anonymous benefactor who funds the award’s two cash purses of £1,000 (US$1,388), it’s pointed out that the Hindi term jhalak means “glimpse,” and the program’s benefactor likes to see the program’s mission as related to providing a glimpse of strong work “that is often overlooked by an industry that has yet to decolonize its gaze and acknowledge that we do not live in a world of lactified centers and rainbow peripheries.”

London society is, surely, distracted at the moment by suggestions of such conceptions of race relations in the wake of Harry and Meghan Markle’s comments. But it’s good to learn from the organizers of the Jhalak Prize that the program received a big jump in submissions for this year’s cycle.

“Despite the pandemic and the grim past year,” prize director Sunny Singh is quoted saying, “we received a record number of submissions, nearly a third more than in 2020.

“There are more books by writers of color being published and, more importantly, more of these are being published well.

“Although this is not a moment for complacency, especially since the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities and writers of color, there is much reason to celebrate.”

The shortlists for both awards are expected to be announced on April 13, with the winners’ announcements coming May 25 in association with the British Library.

Jhalak Prize 2021 Book of the Year Longlist

Image: Jhalak Prize

  • Antiemetic for Homesickness, Romalyn Ante (Chatto Poetry)
  • Inferno, Catherine Cho (Bloomsbury Circus)
  • [re: desire], Afshan D’souza-Lodhi (Burning Eye Books)
  • Poor, Caleb Femi (Penguin Poetry)
  • A More Perfect Union, Tammye Huf (Myriad Editions)
  • My Darling from the Lions, Rachel Long (Picador Poetry)
  • The First Woman, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (One World)
  • The Address Book, Dierdre Mask (Profile Books)
  • Are We Home Yet?, Katy Massey (Jacaranda)
  • Rainbow Milk, Paul Mendez (Dialogue)
  • The Mercies, Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Picador)
  • What’s Left of Me Is Yours, Stephanie Scott (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)
Jhalak Prize 2021 Children’s and YA Books Longlist

Image: Jhalak Prize

  • Too Small Tola, Atinuke & Onyinye Iwu (Walker)
  • The GA Picture Alphabet, Nii Ayikwei Parkes & Avril Filomeno (Self-published)
  • The Girl Who Stole an Elephant, Nizrana Farook (Nosy Crow)
  • When Life Gives You Mangoes, Kereen Getten (Pushkin Press)
  • Baby Girl, Emma Hill (Self-published)
  • And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, Danielle Jawondo (Simon & Schuster)
  • Queen of Freedom, Catherine Johnson (Pushkin Press)
  • The Little War Cat, Hiba Noor Khan & Laura Chamberlain (Macmillan Children’s)
  • Eight Pieces of Silva, Patrice Lawrence (Hachette Children’s)
  • Mohinder’s War, Bali Rai (Bloomsbury Education)
  • A Rabbit Called Herbert, Margaret Sturton (Andersen Press)
  • Cane Warriors, Alex Wheatle (Andersen Press)

Jurors for the 2021 Book of the Year honor are Yvonne Battle-Felton, Louise Doughty and Peter Kalu.

The inaugural judges for the Children’s and Young Adult Prize are Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Candy Gourlay.

The program is open to fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, graphic novels, and/or self-published work.


More from Publishing Perspectives on awards programs is here. More from us on the UK market is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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