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4thWrite Prize 2021

By Ameenah Khan, Emma Carey and Caitlin Evans


In 2017, The Guardian - one of the best-known publications in world news - teamed up with 4th Estate, known as one of the most innovative imprints in the UK. As a result, the two combined forces and the formerly known 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize came to life, followed by a series of creative shortlists and outstanding winning titles.


Fast forward a few years, and the award has undergone a name change in honour of its fifth year running. So long 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, and hello 4thWrite Short Story Prize.


The award, well-respected in the publishing industry, aims to celebrate and amplify Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers and showcase their writing. In the history of the publishing sphere, BAME writers' limited opportunities to bring their creative writing out into the world have resulted in many alluring stories that have gone untold. So sad it is to think that the world has missed out on these creative and empowering contributions to literature. But it's not all doom and gloom. The publishing sphere continues to evolve; thanks to increasingly diverse and inclusive writing competitions, such as the 4thWrite award, there is a platform that exists solely for these stories to be heard and honoured.


So, who are the lucky judges on this year's panel? Nelle Andrew, literary agent at Rachel Mills Literary; Liv Little, writer and founder of gal-dem; Inua Ellams, author, poet and playwright; Aimée Felone, co-founder of Knights Of; Anna Kelly, Editorial Director at 4th Estate; and Claire Armitstead, associate editor for culture at the Guardian.


For this year’s awards, the prize has undergone change not only in its name, but in its prize giving too. One fortunate winner will have the chance to secure £1,000 as well as receiving exclusive access to a one-day publishing workshop at 4th Estate and publication of their story on The Guardian website (what a fantastic prize!).


Learning about the publishing process as a publishing hopeful, or even as an established author, can provide a detailed insight into how books are published. An opportunity of a free publishing workshop doesn’t come about often, so this part of the prize is a wonderful chance for a curious mind to take a step into the world of publishing.


4th Estate really hit the nail on the head by publishing the winning story on The Guardian website; an online page that is visited by thousands of viewers. Such a prize allows aspiring authors to break into the world of writing. It gives the winner exposure on a large platform which, without a doubt not only looks fantastic on CVs and job applications, but also enables them to kickstart their career as author.


Why is it so important to have prizes dedicated solely for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers? The answers are numerous. Throughout the history of the modern Western literary scene, such voices have been disregarded and quieted. Dickens’ paid-by-the-word salary was practically unheard of to non-white writers. Therefore, it is crucially important, and a moral obligation at the least, to make up for the years that these people were unjustly ignored. To give them their own rightful platform and undivided praise and attention, and give opportunity to those who historically have gone without, is the goal of the 4th Write Prize.


Photo by Kandace Siobhan Walker

If you’re BIPOC and interested in sharing your work, all you need to do is submit a polished short story of 6,000 words in PDF format, along with the application form. If you’re not BIPOC and want to support the prize, you can check out the previous winner’s story; Kandace Siobhan Walker with her story ‘Deep Heart’, a “poignant exploration of kinship and community”. Read it here.


The submission period closes on 30 April 2021. The longlist will then be announced on 24 June 2021, the shortlist on 29 July 2021 and the winner on 2 September 2021. Watch this space for our thoughts on the winners - we’re hope you’re as excited as we are!


To submit your work for the prize, head here!



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