Emirates Airline Festival of Literature writing competition opens in a new format

The prize will select three winners, granting them a one-hour session with each of the prize's judges

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The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s writing competition for unpublished authors is now open to entries, in a new format that grants three winners a one-hour session with each of the prize’s judges.

One of the most anticipated writing competitions in the region, the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize has produced 10 internationally-recognised authors since 2013, with 26 books between them. For the first time, the competition’s judges will consist of two agents and one publisher, offering a broader range of expertise and insight to the winners.

While winning the competition does not guarantee a book deal, festival director Ahlam Bolooki said the fact several of the winners have gone on to get published speaks of the prize’s career-launching potential.

“The new format this year is the result of how successful the prize has been and how much talent we have found in the region,” Bolooki says. “Having three judges, two agents and a publisher, select the three winners means more opportunities for aspiring authors.

“There really is no better way for unpublished writers in the region to get their work noticed so I would encourage anyone thinking about it to get their entry in shape,” she adds. “I am so proud of how much this competition has already achieved, and look forward to holding in my hands the published books by the next winners.”

Entries will be judged by international literary agent Luigi Bonomi, founder of Luigi Bonomi Associates and literary agent for many of the competition's previous winners, as well as literary agent Sheila Crowley from Curtis Brown, and Kira Jean, founder and chief executive of The Dreamwork Collective, an independent publishing company that shares the Middle East’s most unique voices and powerful stories.

First-time novelists residing in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are eligible to enter, providing they are aged 21 or older and have never published a novel before. Entries can be on any theme, but must be fiction, in English, and include a 400-word synopsis of the book and the first 2,000 words of the almost completed manuscript. Entries must be submitted by Sunday, December 12 and accompanied by an Dh200 entry fee.

The winners of the prize will get a one-hour session with each of the three judges to discuss their manuscript and get personal feedback. A book deal is not guaranteed, but a number of past winners have gone on to earn multi-book deals. Previous competition winners who have gone on to become published authors include Polly Phillips, Charlotte Butterfield, Annabel Kantaria, Rachel Hamilton, Lucy Strange, Tamsin Winter, Karen Osman, Jessica Jarlvi, Farzeen Ashik and Helga Jensen.

The winners will be announced during the festival in February 2022.

More information is available at www.emirateslitfest.com

Updated: September 29, 2021, 9:13 AM