The joint winners for the 2023 New Writers Kavya Prize - which recognises and encourages the literary achievement of Scottish writers of colour - have been announced.
For 2023, the prize has focused on new writers, giving a platform to new and unpublished prose writing, whether fiction or creative non-fiction.
After discussions, the judging panel awarded The Kavya Prize New Writers Award jointly to Q Manivannan for The Physics of It (Non-Fiction Excerpt) and Jinling Wu for Cocoon (Short Story Collection).
Q Manivannan is a Tamil writer based in Scotland, where they write about care and grief. As an academic and activist, they have worked for nearly a decade on gender-based violence, discriminatory citizenship laws, queer inclusion, disability, and higher education access. Jinling Wu is a Chinese bilingual writer of short stories and plays as well as a filmmaker based in Edinburgh. She has received a creator’s award from We Are Here Scotland on writing, the best first-time author award for a self-published novella from Douban in China and participated in Creating Space Writers’ Group with Traverse Theatre.
There were two highly commended writers also named by the judging panel in this round of the prize - Theresa Muñoz for Hummingbird (Non-Fiction Essay) and Tae Song for 1986 (Novel Excerpt).
The inaugural prize last year was won by playwright Uma Nada-Rajah for Toy, Plastic Chicken! published by Salamander Street.
Uma Nada-Rajah was one of the judges for the new writers’ award, alongside novelist Tendai Huchu and agent Caro Clarke from Portobello Literary.
Caro Clarke, said: "I was so honoured to be asked to judge the Kavya Prize and was blown away by the wonderful entries we received. It was so difficult for my fellow judges and myself to pick a shortlist, let alone winners. I can’t wait to see more from these brilliant writers in the future!"
The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held during Book Week Scotland on Thursday 16 November 2023.
While this year, the Kavya Prize celebrated unpublished writers of colour writing across all genres, the inaugural prize in 2022, highlighted published works of fiction, creative fiction, poetry, script or short story collections. The Kavya Prize intends to continue this cycle - one year published and the following unpublished writers of colour - as it develops and grows.
The Kavya Prize, in association with the University of Glasgow, was founded by the Indian-born Scottish author Leela Soma, seeks to recognise, and encourage writers of colour who are Scottish by birth, residence or formation. The prize is also supported by Aye Write, Glasgow’s Book Festival.
Leela Soma died in December 2022 but it is now hoped The Kavya Prize will be a legacy of her passionate advocacy and support of writers of colour.
The winners of The Kavya New Writers Award receive £400 and the option of a residency at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Writing Centre, in association with Scottish Book Trust. The highly commended writers will each receive the option of a one-to-one session with literary agent Caro Clarke from Portobello Literary.
Kavya is a popular and well recognised word in Sanskrit and refers to a literary style or a completed body of literature that was used in Indian courts of the Maharajahs who nurtured the cultural arts in India.
Winners Full Biographies
Q Manivannan -The Physics of It (Non-Fiction Excerpt)Q is a Tamil writer based in Scotland, where they write about care and grief. As an academic and activist,they have worked for nearly adecade on gender-based violence, discriminatory citizenship laws, queer inclusion, disability, and higher education access. As a writer, they are often yearning. Q pursues an ESRC-funded PhD in International Relations with the University of St Andrews, performing anethnography of hearth-keeping in Indian protests, asking who does the work of resistance, who remembers, and who forgets the after lives of conflict.
Jinling Wu is a Chinese bilingual writerof short stories and plays as well as a filmmaker based in Edinburgh. She has received a creator’s award from We Are Here Scotland on writing, the best first-timeauthor award for a self-published novella from Douban in China and participated in Creating Space Writers’ Group with Traverse Theatre. She has studied filmmaking in Prague, Lisbon, Tallinn, and Edinburgh and made a number of short films, both in the UK and internationally