Awarded annually, this prize seeks out the best books by British/British resident BAME writers and awards one winner £1,000. The prize is unique in that it accepts entries published in the UK in 2017 by a writer of colour. Entries can be fiction, non-fiction, short story, graphic novel, poetry, children’s books, YA, teen and all genres. The prize is also open to self-published writers. The aim is the find the best writers of colour in the country.

Started by authors Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla and Media Diversified, with support from The Authors’ Club and a prize donated by an anonymous benefactor the prize exists, to celebrate the achievements of British writers of colour.

Following the prize’s inaugural year in 2016, the Equality and Human Rights Commission commented: “this award is the type of action which the Commission supports and recommends.”

Judges 2017

Sunny Singh is a London-based writer. She has published three novels, a non-fiction book on lives of single women in India, numerous short stories & essays. Her most recent novel is Hotel Arcadia (2015). Her latest book, on the film star Amitabh Bachchan, will be published by BFI/Palgrave in November 2017.

Catherine Johnson writes YA fiction as well as for Film and TV. Her next book Blade and Bone, is out in October 2016, her last book, The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo was shortlisted for the Bookseller’s YA prize. She has been an RLF writing fellow and writer in residence in Holloway Prison and worked for the British Council, Arvon, and taught at various universities.

Tanya Byrne was born in London and now lives in Brighton with her dog, Frida. Her mother was Guyanese and her father was Irish. She left BBC Radio to write her debut novel, Heart Shaped Bruise, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger and the Branford Boase. Tanya was also shortlisted for New Writer of the Year at the National Book Awards. Her third novel, For Holly, is out now.

Vera Chok is a multi-disciplinary writer and performance maker. She is co-author of the award-winning anthology, The Good Immigrant and has had her poetry, short stories and essays published by The Guardian, Brain Mill Press, Rising, and Transect. Vera founded The Brautigan Book Club, an international creative society, in 2013.

Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria and raised in England. Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria is her first book. It was selected as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in 2012, and named The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year, 2012.  Noo has also contributed to the anthology An Unreliable Guide to London and A Place of Refuge, an anthology of writing on asylum seekers.

Timeline 2017

Judges announcement 1st September 2017
Submission window 1st September 2017 until 30th November 2017
Longlist announcement 30th January 2018
Shortlist announcement 20th February 2018
Winner announcement 15th March 2018

‘When the marginalised demand structural change, our demands are fobbed off with being told to ‘do something for ourselves.’ The Jhalak Prize is precisely ‘doing something.’ Sunny Singh, Author, Chair Of Judges

‘I’m sick of being interviewed about inclusion, doing panels about inclusion, tweeting hot takes about inclusion. This is me doing something. And I’m glad to be working with the excellent Media Diversified, which is one of the internet’s best resources for a diverse group of writers who don’t just write about race. We can do other things.’ Nikesh Shukla, Author, Prize Director

Terms can be found here. If you have any enquiries about the prize, please contact the Prize Director, Nikesh Shukla on

Reni Eddo-Lodge was awarded the 2017 Jhalak Prize for Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race

The other books shortlisted for the inaugural Jhalak Prize were:

Nadeem Aslam, The Golden Legend (Faber)
Kayo Chingonyi, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus)
Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I ‘m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury Circus)
Xiaolu Guo, Once Upon a Time in the East (Chatto & Windus)
Meena Kandasamy, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife (Atlantic Books)
Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, The Island at the End of Everything (Chicken House)

Jacob Ross was awarded the 2016 Jhalak Prize for The Bone Readers

The other books shortlisted for the inaugural Jhalak Prize were:

The Girl Of Ink And Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Chicken House)
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
Speak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie (Jacaranda)
Black And British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga (Macmillan)
Another Day In The Death Of America by Gary Younge (Faber)


Is this prize racist? How would you feel about a prize for only white authors? No. Ultimately, we have chosen to put our time and money and resources into this prize, highlighting this inequality, redressing this particular imbalance, confronting this lack of representation. This prize is about celebrating marginalised writers, not excluding overrepresented ones. If you feel you want to put together a prize for only white writers, put your time money and resources into setting one up and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.

What exactly is a writer of colour? How do I know if I/my author is one? Person of colour is a term used to describe any person who is not white. The term encompasses all non-white groups, emphasising common experiences of racism. It typically refers to individuals of non-Caucasian heritage.

I am a self-published author. Can I enter? Of course. Look out for submission guidelines later on in the year.

My author is a writer of colour but they don’t live in the UK. Can they still enter? No. This country has a bad track record of nurturing homegrown talent. This prize is for British citizens or British residents. We’re hoping to highlight the need for more British writers of colour to be published in this country.

My book is digital only. Does that matter? No. Our judges will be accepting submissions both digitally and physically.

How many submissions can we enter? There is no limit on how many submissions a publisher can make as long as all submitted books meet the criteria.