The 2023 winners of the Emirates LitFest Writing Prize, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s prestigious competition to discover unpublished novelists, have been announced.
This year the process was divided into two categories, adult fiction, and children’s fiction. The prize for adult fiction was judged by Luigi Bonomi, leading literary agent and founder of LBA Books. The new category of children’s fiction was judged by Louise Lamont, also a literary agent and director of LBA Books, specialising in children’s authors and illustrators.
“For the first time we have opened up the LitFest Writing Prize to include children’s writers”
The winners are:
1st place: Yi-Hwa Hanna
2nd place: Noor Salih
3rd place: Laura Mulligan Plunkett
4th place: Andrea Gissdal
1st place: Romita Maitra
2nd place: Mary Collins
“For the first time we have opened up the LitFest Writing Prize to include children’s writers, in addition to writers of adult fiction, giving more entries the opportunity to be recognised,” said Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
“Children’s publishing goes from strength to strength, so we wanted to recognise this important category”
“Children’s publishing goes from strength to strength, so we wanted to recognise this important category. The track record for putting new authors on the path to international publishing success has been tremendous, reflecting the huge number of talented writers in the region. I hope that this year’s winning children’s writers will enjoy similar success.”
Both first-place winners will get a one-hour one-to-one session with the judge of their category for feedback and writing career advice.
Yi-Hwa Hanna’s novel, The Casting Season, tells of a secret community that lives deep in the mountains of Truko Gorge, where a dragon’s curse means that Shu-Ching will never be older than 30 … and she has turned 16 years old for the 15th time. Can she discover a way to break the curse?
Romita Maitra’s children’s book, The Theft of the Grande Dame Ruby, tells the story of 11-year-old Althea Bhowmick who is sent to visit her great-aunt Zenky and meets a robot bird named Gaspard and a scientist called Réo … and together they embark on a wild journey to track down the missing Grande Dame Ruby, a stolen gem.
Recognised as one of the most successful writing competitions in the region, the competition has a proven track record in finding new writing talent, producing nine published authors in the 10 years since it began, although a publishing deal for the winner is not guaranteed.