31 January 2018
Jhalak Prize longlist

The Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour announced its longlist last night (Tuesday 30), with three Penguin Random House UK titles making the list.

Chatto & Windus have two titles featured on the longlist: Kayo Chingonyi’s collection of poetry Kumukanda, and Xialou Guo’s memoir Once Upon a Time in the East. Yrsa Daley-Ward’s poetry collection Bone, published by Penguin Press, also makes the list.

Kumukanda

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.

bone

'You will come away bruised.
You will come away bruised
but this will give you poetry.'

Raw and stark, the poems in Yrsa Daley-Ward's breakthrough collection strip down her reflections on the heart, life, the inner self, coming of age, faith and loss to their essence. They resonate to the core of experience.

Once Upon a Time in the East

Xiaolu Guo’s extraordinary memoir is a handbook of life lessons. How to be an artist when censorship kills creativity and the only job you can get is writing bad telenovela scripts. How to be a woman when female babies are regularly drowned at birth and sexual abuse is commonplace. Most poignantly of all: how to love when you’ve never been shown how.

The three nominations are on a list of twelve, which span fiction, YA, non-fiction, debuts, poetry and short stories, and include Renni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury) and Sita Brahmachari’s Worry Angels (Barrington Stoke).

In 2018 the all-woman judging panel includes writer Sunny Singh, YA author Catherine Johnson, novelist Tanya Byrne, writer and performer Vera Chok and travel writer and journalist Noo Saro-Wiwa. Sunny Singh, the prize co-founder and panel chair commented:

“The last few months have been an incredible journey through beautifully crafted, intellectually challenging and emotionally rich books. The longlist demonstrates the extraordinary range of themes, ideas and forms from British writers of colour. We have whittled down our favourites to 12 books for the longlist with much difficulty and am not sure how we will ever arrive at a shortlist, far less a winner.”

The prize was launched last year, and went to Jacob Ross for his Caribbean crime thriller, The Bone Readers. The shortlist will be announced on 20th February, and the winner will be announced 15th March. You can find the full longlist here.

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