SI Leeds Literary Prize 2020 is closed for entries.

This is a trail-blazing award for new writing by black and Asian women aged 18 or above.

“Our aim is to act as a loudspeaker for fresh and original literary voices from an under-represented group, and to help them reach new audiences in mainstream culture. With the help of our partners, shortlisted writers take part in a programme of craft and career development. Many of our entrants have gone on to land publishing deals, agents, and critical acclaim for their writing.” – SI Leeds Literary Prize

The 2020 Prize

The 2020 Prize will be the largest to date, thanks to increased support from its partners, including Soroptimist International of Leeds, and from the Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants. The prizes are:

  • First prize: £3,000 and a free place on an Avron course, serious consideration for publication by Peepal Tree Press, attendance at The Literary Consultancy’s Chapter and Verse industry day, and TLC website profiling
  • Second prize: £1,250
  • Third prize: £750
  • The top three prizes receive a manuscript assessment from The Literary Consultancy.
  • For all shortlisted writers, there will be an extensive programme of support, including consultancy through Peepal Tree Press’s Inscribe programme; networking events through New Writing North, and opportunities to read their works at literary events.

The 2020 prize will be awarded at the Ilkley Literature Festival in October 2020, subject to ongoing public health advice and economic variables related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Enter

Entries for the 2020 Award are now closed.

The Judges

This year’s judges are:

  • Malika Booker: Writer and founder of the writers collective Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. She lectures at Manchester Metropolitan University and is currently chair of judges for the international Manchester Poetry Prize
  • Niki Chang: A literary agent at The Good Literary Agency. She works with a wide range of writers of both literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Kadija George: A literary activist and founder of SABLE LitMag.
  • Yvonne Singh: A journalist, writer and editor. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Observer, The Mirror, The London Evening Standard and the BBC.

Previous Winners

2012: The first award was given to Minoli Salgado’s A Little Dust on the Eyes, which was long listed for the 2016 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

2014: Mahsuda Snaith won the next prize in 2014 and signed a deal with Transworld; The Things We Thought We Knew was published in 2017 and her follow-up novel, How to Find Home, was recently featured as BBC R4’s Book at Bedtime.

2016: Amita Murray won the 2016 Prize and signed a two-novel deal with Harper Collins; Finding Rose was released in 2019.

2018: The most recent winner, Shereen Tadros, was signed to literary agency Conville & Walsh.


The biennial award is now in its fifth edition and has helped support a new generation of writers. Previous alumni include Amita Murray, Mahsuda Snaith, Minoli Salgado, Season Butler and Kit de Waal.

Since winning the 2016 Prize, Amita Murray has signed a two-novel deal with Harper Collins: “One of the most priceless things to come out of the award is the spontaneous, surprising friendships with fellow writers. A year later the short list still meets up for lunch and writerly gossip. The publishing industry doesn’t always know what to do with our confusing ‘diverse’ voices and it is awards like this one that blaze the way forward. All in all, it was nothing short of a magical experience.”

Jane Steele was a shortlisted writer in 2012: “I re-did my CV the other day and noted with interest that in both writing and acting I have been fully professional since […] 2012. I’m certain that the Prize fed into that somehow. The Prize boosted my confidence no end. It was such vindication of all those years spend scribbling away wondering who would be interested. More so than other writing breaks before then. It was on a totally different level. My feeling is that the Prize will grow in influence as the years progress. I have great pride in knowing that, whatever happens, I was a winner of the very first one. No one can take that away from me.”

About the Prize

The Prize was founded by partners Soroptimist International of Leeds, an organisation dedicated to supporting and empowering women through inspiring projects; independent publishers Peepal Tree Press, and the North’s oldest literary festival, Ilkley Literature Festival.

Current patrons include Bernadine Evaristo, Bonnie Greer OBE, Bidisha and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, amongst others.