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Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize shortlist revealed

Sabrin Hasbun, Dariia Lysiuk, Roxana Shirazi, Steve Tasane and Simon Weisz have been shortlisted for the inaugural Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize, for writers from refugee or migrant backgrounds.

The £15,000 award includes a publication agreement with Footnote Press. The prize, which is for narrative non-fiction centred around themes of displacement, identity or resistance, was developed in association with the Southbank Centre, and is supported by John Ellerman Foundation, Doughty Street Chambers, Spread the Word and The Bookseller.

Hasbun is in the running with Wait For Her and Lysiuk is shortlisted for Notes of a Guilty Survivor. Shirazi’s Dead Iranian Girl and Tasane’s Spitting Bricks are also on the shortlist, alongside Weisz’s Resolution.

The five shortlisted authors will read and discuss their work at a live event hosted at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room on 11 February. The event will be chaired by poet and performer Arji Manuelpillai. Tickets are available here.

A judging panel featuring Elif Shafak, Dina Nayeri and Philippe Sands will select a winner and two runners-up, to be announced in March. Footnote Press managing director Vidisha Biswas and Counterpoints Arts director Almir Koldzic will be co-chairing the panel.

Footnote Press MD Vidisha Biswas said: “We were thrilled to receive over 100 submissions to our writing prize in its inaugural year. All of our readers, myself included, have been thoroughly impressed by the breadth and quality of the entries, and it has been a mammoth task to narrow these down to a shortlist of just five. From Palestine and Ukraine to Yorkshire and Tuscany, spanning generations and continents, these narratives encapsulate an incredible diversity of experience whilst simultaneously emphasising our common humanity.”

Almir Koldzic, Director of Counterpoints, said: “Writers from displaced and migrant backgrounds have incredibly important perspectives to offer us; the perspectives that might be especially relevant now as we navigate our way through these challenging and divisive times. The submissions we have received this year show us just how powerful and resonant these voices can be, telling their stories with great skill, wisdom and humour.”