Chatto & Windus authors Xiaolu Guo and Kayo Chingonyi shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize
The prize, first awarded in March 2017, seeks to celebrate books by British BAME writers and provide an "exciting snapshot of the incredible array of writers of colour in Britain today".
The shortlist was decided by an all-woman judging panel, consisting of: author and co-founder of the award, chair Sunny Singh; YA author Catherine Johnson; novelist Tanya Byrne; multidisciplinary writer and performance maker Vera Chok; and travel writer and journalist Noo Saro-Wiwa.
Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. The poems of Kayo Chingonyi’s remarkable debut explore this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived.
Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, here is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.
Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity of modern China: censorship, underground art, Western boyfriends. In 2002 she leaves Beijing on a scholarship to study in Britain. Now, after a decade in Europe, her tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home.
Also in the running are Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury Circus), Millwood Hargrave’s The Island at the End of Everything (Chicken House), Meena Kandasamy's When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife (Atlantic Books) and Nadeem Aslam's The Golden Legend (Faber).
“The quality of this shortlist is testament to the breath taking quality and range of literary production by writers of colour in Britain today," said Singh.
The overall winner will be presented with a prize of £1,000 at a reception in central London on 15th March.
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