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Our Judges

 

Roy McFarlane is a poet and former community worker. He has held the role of the Birmingham Poet Laureate, been the Starbucks Poet in Residence and is currently the Birmingham & Midlands Institute Poet in Residence.

His debut collection, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was published by Nine Arches Press in September 2016.  Roy’s second collection, The Healing Next Time, was  nominated for the Ted Hughes award, longlisted for the Jhalak Prize, a Poetry Book Society recommendation, selected by the Guardian as one of the best poetry titles of 2018.

Roy has co-edited an anthology of poems by locally based artists, Celebrate Wha'? - Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands. He was featured in the major 2012 anthology of Black and Asian poetry, Out of Bounds: British Black and Asian Poets. 
He is presently a Jerwood Bursary recipient looking at mothers and daughters of Windrush, voices drawn from troubled waters. 

 

Nikesh Shukla is an author, journalist and screenwriter. His latest adult novel The One Who Wrote Destiny was published in Spring 2018 and his first young adult novel Run, Riot was published in June 2018. His debut novel, Coconut Unlimited,was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010. His second novel Meatspace was released to critical acclaim in 2014. Nikesh is also the editor the bestselling essay collection, The Good Immigrant, which won the reader’s choice at the Books Are My Bag Awards.

Nikesh was one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Global Thinkers and The Bookseller’s 100 most influential people in publishing in 2016 and in 2017. He is the co-founder of the literary journal, The Good Journal and The Good Literary Agency. In 2014 he wrote Two Dosas, an award-winning short film based on his short story. His Channel 4 Comedy Lab Kabadasses aired on E4 and Channel 4 in 2011. He has been commissioned by Little House Productions, Cinestaan and Ink Factory and is developing new ideas with for television. Nikesh has written for The Guardian, Observer, Independent, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Vice and BBC2, LitHub, Guernica and BBC Radio 4.

He is also a founder of the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour.

www.nikesh-shukla.com

 

 

Anita Sethi is an award-winning journalist, writer and critic. She has written for publications including The Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times and New Statesman. Her writing has appeared in Common People, We Mark Your Memory, Seaside Special: Postcards from the Edge, Seasons nature writing anthology, and The Good Journal among others. 

Anita has appeared on BBC Radio 4's Open Book and Front Row, has been a judge of the British Book Awards, Costa Book Awards, and Society of Authors Awards, and is an Academician in the Folio Prize Academy. She has been shortlisted for Journalist of the Year at the Asian Media Awards and Writer of the Year at the Northern Writers Awards. She has also been an International Writer-in-Residence and Ambassador for Journalism at the Emerging Writers' Festival in Melbourne, Australia.

 
 

Kerry Young is a novelist with three books published by Bloomsbury: Pao (2011), Gloria (2013) and Show Me A Mountain (2016).  Pao was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize and the East Midlands Book Award. Gloria was shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award, longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Kerry’s background is in youth work where she published widely and undertook research, training and consultancy for central government departments, local authorities, voluntary organisations, charities, universities and public bodies. She has masters’ degrees in organisation development and creative writing, and a PhD in youth work. 

Kerry is a reader for The Literary Consultancy and a tutor for the Arvon Foundation. She was a Fellow on the Royal Literary Fund Fellowship Programme where she was writer-in-residence at The University of Sheffield. She is also Honorary Assistant Professor in the School of English at The University of Nottingham and Honorary Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Leicester.

www,kerryyoung.co.uk

Previous Judges

 
 

Sabrina Mahfouz s a playwright, poet, screenwriter and performer who has recently been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and is the recipient of the 2018 King's Alumni Arts & Culture Award for inspiring change in the industry. She has been shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award for Performance Poetry and has won a Sky Arts Academy Award for Poetry, a Westminster Prize for New Playwrights and a Fringe First Award.

www.sabrinamahfouz.com

Anna Perera has written six children’s and YA books including the critically acclaimed Guantanamo Boy which was translated into more than a dozen languages and shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Branford Boase, nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and adapted into an Arts Council supported play. Her book The Glass Collector was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

www.annaperera.com

 
 

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance literary journalist and editor. She writes about books for Stylist Magazine online, co-hosts the pop culture podcast Eat, Read, Stream, Repeat, is books editor at Phoenix, and is editor-at-large at independent publisher Little Tiger Group. She regularly chairs author events, and is co-founder of BAME in Publishing, a networking group for people of colour in publishing.

@SarahShaffi

Siana Bangura is a writer, poet, performer and producer hailing from South East London. She is the author of critically acclaimed debut poetry collection, Elephant, and the founder and former editor of No Fly on the WALL, a platform centring the voices and experiences of Black British women and Black women living in the UK. Siana is the producer of '1500 & Counting', a documentary film investigating deaths in custody in the UK. With experience in indie publishing, journalism, and campaigns under her belt, Siana’s wide portfolio of work focuses on bringing voices on the margins to the centre.
sianabangura.com

 

Tanya Byrne is an award winning author and freelance journalist. She left BBC Radio to write her debut novel, Heart Shaped Bruise, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger and the Branford Boase as well as nominated for the New Writer of the Year at the National Book Awards. She has since published two more critically acclaimed novels, and numerous short stories and essays.  
www.tanyabyrne.com

 

Vera Chok is a multi-disciplinary writer, performance maker and poet. She grew up in Malaysia and is of Chinese descent. She holds an MA in Archaeology & Anthropology from Oxford and trained as an actor at The Poor School (London) and Ecole Philippe Gaulier (Paris).  More recently, Vera gained a Distinction in a creative writing MA with a poetic collection excavating the sexual identity of an immigrant woman.She is a co-author of the award-winning anthology, The Good Immigrant and has had her poetry, short stories and essays published by The Guardian, Brain Mill Press, Rising, and Transect. Vera founded The Brautigan Book Club, an international creative society, in 2013. Vera is Trustee of Tête à Tête, the world's largest community for new opera. She is acts as Ambassador for Fearless Futures, a female-led social justice training programme, and for Apple and Pears, a charity which enables primary school children and their families to explore new worlds.
www.verachok.org

 

Catherine Johnson writes YA fiction as well as for Film and TV. Her  2015 novel, The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo was shortlisted for the Bookseller's YA prize. er most recent books are Freedom, nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2019, and Race To The Frozen North. She is also included in Margaret Busby's anthology of Black Women's writing, New Daughters of Africa.She has been an RLF writing fellow and writer in residence in Holloway Prison and worked for the British Council, Arvon, and taught at various universities. Catherine also writes for film, television and radio. 
catherinejohnson.co.uk

 

NooSaro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria and raised in England. 
Her first book, Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria (Granta, 2012), was selected as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in 2012, and named The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year, 2012. Shortlisted for the Author’s Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award in 2013, Looking for Transwonderland was also nominated by The Financial Times as one of the best travel books of 2012. The Guardian newspaper included it among its 10 Best Contemporary Books on Africa in 2012.  In 2016, it won the Albatros Travel Literature Prize in Italy. 
Noo was awarded a Miles Morland Scholarship for non-fiction writing in 2015. The following year she contributed stories to the anthology An Unreliable Guide to London (Influx Press, 2016); A Place of Refuge (Unbound, 2016), an anthology of writing on asylum seekers; and La FelicitàDegliUominiSemplici, an Italian-language anthology based around football. Her short non-fiction story about Africans living in China is featured in the Daughters of Africa anthology (Myriad Editions, 2019).   Condé Nast Traveler Magazine named her one of "The World's 30 Most Influential Female Travellers" in 2018.
www.noosarowiwa.com

 
 

Sunny Singh is a London-based writer. She has published three novels, a non-fiction book on lives of single women in India, numerous short stories & essays. Her most recent novel is Hotel Arcadia (2015). Her latest book, on the film star Amitabh Bachchan, was published by BFI/Palgrave in December 2017. More: www.sunnysingh.net

 

Yvvette Edwards is a British author of Montserratian origin, who grew up in Hackney.  Her debut novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats, longlisted for the Man Booker prize and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ prize.  Her second novel, The Mother, was published in 2016 to much critical acclaim. She continues to live in East London with her family.
www.yvvetteedwards.co.uk

Musa Okwonga is a poet, author, journalist, broadcaster, musician, social commentator, football writer and consultant in the fields of creativity and communications. He is the author of two books about football, A Cultured Left Foot and Will You Manage?, the first of which was nominated for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His poetry collection, Eating Roses for Dinner, marks his first ten years as a poet.Musa has recently signed a publishing deal with Berlin-based Bosworth Music, and is co-founder of BBXO, a duo who make a genre of music they describe as “future blues – music of defiant happiness at a time when so much around us is so bleak.” He lives and works in Berlin.
www.okwonga.com

 

Alex Wheatle M.B.E is an award-winning novelist, with eleven published novels. His first novel, Brixton Rock, was published to critical acclaim in 1999. In his mid teenshe was a founder member of the Crucial Rocker sound system, where he wrote lyrics for performances in youth clubs and blues dances. Alex’s first YA book, Liccle Bit, was published in 2015 and won the Guardian Children’s Book Prize 2016.Alex was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008.
www.alexwheatle.com