Three writers at Manchester Metropolitan University have been longlisted for the Jhalak Prize, an annual literary prize celebrating writers of colour in the UK.
The Jhalak Prize was established in 2017 to honor British writers of color and to celebrate British and British resident BAME writers. Previous winners of the Jhalak Prize have included Johny Pitts, Guy Gunaratne, and Reni Eddo-Lodge. In 2020, the sister award to the Jhalak Prize was established to further support underrepresented writers in the UK: the Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize.
This year, three of Manchester Met’s university lecturers and writers have been longlisted. Alex Wheatle and Danielle Jawando have both been longlisted for the Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize, and Dr. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi for the Jhalak Prize. Both Jawando and Makumbi have since gone on to be shortlisted in their respective categories.
Award-winning author and Lecturer in Creative Writing, Alex Wheatle, was longlisted for his novel Cane Warriors, which was inspired by the true story of an 18th-century slave rebellion in the Caribbean. Wheatle has been shortlisted and longlisted for a number of prizes, and won the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Award for his novel Crongton Knights in 2016.
In response to being longlisted for the Jhalak Prize, Wheatle said: “I’m delighted to be longlisted in the Jhalak children’s/YA prize. As a UK BAME writer, it’s very difficult to be shortlisted for awards like the Carnegie so the Jhalak prize can offer recognition and profile for UK writers of colour.”
Danielle Jawando’s shortlisted novel, And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, is a story about loss, understanding, and the importance of speaking out. Jawando is an author, screenwriter, and associate lecturer at Manchester Met, and has had many of her short stories longlisted for prizes such as her short story Deerstalker, which was one of six finalists for the We Need Diverse Books short story competition.
Jawando said: “The Jhalak Prize is such an important and much needed award. As a debut author, I’m so honoured to be longlisted alongside so many writers I admire.”
Dr Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a novelist, short story writer and Lecturer in Creative Writing for the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013, was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014 and won the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction in 2018.
Her novel, The First Woman, which has been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize, has been described as “a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, at once epic and deeply personal, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism, that will linger in the memory long after the final page.”
The winners for the annual Jhalak Prize and the Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize will be announce on May 25th.
Ryann has recently moved to Manchester from Japan, where she lived for five years teaching English literature and working as a travel writer for Voyapon Magazine. She is currently studying her MA in creative writing and is excited to work with aAh! Magazine as a creative editor.