Jhalak Prize Shortlist

Here’s some news I never thought I’d be able to write about, because I imagined the chances of it happening were too small to consider – The Girl of Ink & Stars has made it onto the Jhalak Prize shortlist, from a long-list of eleven incredible books. It is the only children’s book on the list, and I feel so grateful and proud to be flying the kids’ lit flag amongst such company. Here are the books in the running:

I’ve read all but David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History, and Jacob Ross’ The Bone Readers, which I intend to buy, borrow or steal as soon as possible. The shortlist has been covered by The Bookseller and The Guardian so far, and from these articles I’ve gleaned some of the lovely things the judges have said…just never read the comments.
For a prize with such hopeful and positive aims, it’s been a depressingly contentious process so far – I personally found Khorsandi’s decision to withdraw because her book is not about ‘ethnic issues’ – nor is mine – bewildering (great blog about it here) – and there have been gleeful accounts of how low the submission numbers were (51 the week before deadline, though this then more than tripled). The latter is surely an inditement of how much we need such a prize, that so few books fall into the criteria.
All prizes have selection criteria: in a way this one is less restrictive as it accepts all genres, from non-fiction to science writing, kids’ lit to short stories. In my view, the Jhalak Prize is surely a wholly wonderful thing: it aims to raise up the voices of writers of colour, whatever they choose to write about it. I am incredibly proud to be part of it.