Left-Wing Outlet Launches Short Story Prize For Non-White Writers

REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett.

Amy Balog London-based writer and journalist
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The Guardian recently announced its annual short fiction writing contest in association with 4th Estate Books, open only to entrants from black, Asian and other minority backgrounds.

This is the third yearly competition of its kind offering writers a chance to win £1,000, an exclusive publishing workshop and the opportunity to have their work published online. In order to qualify for entry, contestants have to be at least 18 years old, live in the UK or Ireland and be non-white.

“I think a prize like this needs to exist because we need to level the playing field,” Sarah Shaffi, a freelance literary journalist and one of the judges, said. “It’s an opportunity to show people of color that the publishing industry is open to them. Here’s a way to learn more about the industry; here’s a way to submit your story and get it read by great people in a publishing house that has got a great history of doing brilliant books.”

“I do think there’s something to be said about the stories about particular identities and experiences,” Alex Reads, a podcast host and another one of the judges said. “But I am looking forward to seeing things that are a bit more fantastical, a bit more out there.”

The Guardian is not the only British media organisation to have discriminated against people based on race.

The BBC has a history of advertising job openings and internships only available to candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds. In 2016, the network published an advertisement for a script writing trainee scheme, seeking to recruit two non-white writers in order to tackle the “under-representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in script editing roles.” Last year, BBC launched an internship program exclusively for non-whites, and earlier this year the media giant was looking for a multimedia journalist stating the same criteria.