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Jhalak Prize


The Jhalak Prize and the Jhalak Children's & YA Prize seek to support and celebrate books by British and British resident writers of colour. The prize was founded by writers Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla. 

The winners of the Jhalak Prize and Jhalak Children's & YA Prize have been announced!

Described as '"pioneering books that are courageous, full of heart and which open pathways to writers and creatives of colour," these books are a must-read (and a must-buy from your local bookshop!).

Prize Director Sunny Singh said,

"As ever, I am in awe of Jhalak judges who bring such rigour, passion and generosity to the process every year, especially when picking winners from extraordinary shortlists appears a near impossible task. This year, the judges have picked two pioneering books that are courageous, full of heart and break new ground for publishing today and open pathways to writers and creatives of colour who shall follow. Maisie Chan's Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is a hilarious, heartwarming read that is timely and timeless and will surely become a beloved book of middle grade readers. It is also one of the rare - and brilliant - representations of British Chinese families in children's literature today. Sabba Khan's sumptuous graphic memoir, The Roles We Play, is the first graphic work to win the Jhalak Prize and is an exemplar of great storytelling that defies conventions, boundaries and genres. Its impeccable balance of words and images demonstrates a storyteller in full control of her craft and is moving, powerful and inspirational. These are two books for the new literary canon!"

Each winner has been awarded £1,000 and a specially created work of art as part of the ongoing Jhalak Art Residency. Find out about both winners and artists below.


Our partnership with Jhalak Prize

At National Book Tokens, we're thrilled to be partnering with the Jhalak Prize for the second year in a row to help them increase awareness of the prize titles amongst booksellers, who have always been the best champions of books in their local communities. By distributing point of sale kits and social media assets to more than 100 bookshops, we support them to create instore displays and shout about the longlists, shortlists and winners from their online channels. We also work with 12 independent Bookshop Champions to promote individual titles from the shortlists. Find out more about this year's Bookshop Champions below.


Previous winners

Previous winners of the Jhalak Prize are Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi for The First Woman (Oneworld) in 2021, Johny Pitts for Afropean: Notes from Black Europe (Penguin) in 2020, Guy Gunaratne for In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press) in 2019, Reni Eddo-Lodge for Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury Circus) in 2018 and Jacob Ross for The Bone Readers (Little, Brown) in 2017. The inaugural Jhalak Childrens & Young Adult Prize was won by Patrice Lawrence for Eight Pieces of Silva (Hachette Children's) in 2021.

Visit to learn more.

The Jhalak Prize Winner 2022


Jhalak Prize 2022 winner


Jhalak Prize 2022 winner with trophy

Winner, Jhalak Prize 2022

Sabba Khan, The Roles We Play


"I have not loved a graphic memoir this much since reading Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Are You My Mother? Having read and re-read Sabba Khan's debut, I find it to be a powerful, moving and thought-provoking story which shimmers with hard-earned wisdom and wonder, one that is beautifully written and vividly drawn. The Roles We Play truly deserves the widest audience possible." - Mary Jean Chan


"Gone are the days of limiting what can be exciting, striking, and deeply profound literature. The Roles We Play showcases Sabba Khan as an impeccable storyteller who commands the page in every way."Chimene Suleyman


Artist Elijah Vardo has created the trophy for Sabba Khan's The Roles We Play. "My Grandmother's Hands" draws on the artist's Romany heritage, celebrates the long tradition of oral storytelling while also recognising the historic lack of literacy amongst his people. He drew inspiration from stories that are etched and carried on our skins, and specifically, in his grandmother's hands which appear in the watercolours and ink on paper. The piece emphasises the importance of holding our pasts and histories in our hands while also sharing these with the wider world. 


The Jhalak Children's & YA Prize Winner 2022


Jhalak Children's & YA Prize 2022 winner


Jhalak Children's & YA Prize winner with trophy


Winner, Jhalak Children's &Young Adult Prize 2022

Maisie Chan, Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths


"I love this book for the warm-heartedness, humour and nuanced way it approaches the challenges of being a child negotiating multiple identities. It's wonderful to see UK East Asian representation, but the story is instantly relatable to any us distanced from our families and their culture. I also think that Danny's grandmother deserves her own TV series."Patrice Lawrence

"Danny Chung... is a slow burn of a book that takes a common stereotype and turns it on its head. It's one of the books that crept onto my longlist and made me love it more with each new reading. It is subversive without ever losing its sense of unbridled fun. I hope it continues to entertain young readers for many years to come."Nii Ayikwei Parkes

"Maisie’s book about Danny is warm and funny. When I first read it I thought it would make a great class read for school children everywhere. A book that can be enjoyed together and when the laughter dies down, can lead to class discussions about stereotypes." – Sufiya Ahmed


Artist Rikin Parekh created the trophy for the Jhalak Children’s & Young Adult Prize, drawing on his own heritage and love of illustrating animals to create a 'postage stamp' of a Lion from the Gir Forest in Gujarat on a first class stamp. In India, the lion symbolises not only courage but also protection and safety. Rikin illustrates in an analogous fashion and the illustration is created using dip pen, inking brush, water colours, Indian ink...and a very steady hand.

Jhalak Bookshop Champions


Bookshop Champions

Since local booksellers really are the best placed to get new titles to readers, we asked 12 bookshops from up and down the country to champion one title each from the shortlists. Each Bookshop Champion celebrated their shortlisted title in their own way, from interviews and features in local press to events, social media activity and more. Sunny Singh, co-founder of the prize, says, "The Jhalak Prize is delighted to once again partner with 12 independent bookshops who join us as our Bookshop Champions to celebrate shortlisted books in the run up to our awards on 26th of May. Independent bookshops are crucial to our industry and absolute lifesavers for writers. Their ongoing role in championing our shortlists cannot be emphasized enough. We are grateful for their support in championing our shortlistees."


Find out more about this year's Bookshop Champions below.


Jhalak Prize Shortlist

Like A Tree, Walking by Vahni Capildeo - Lighthouse Books, Edinburgh

We're over the moon to be chosen as a bookshop champion for the astonishing Anthony Ezekiel (writing as Vahni Capildeo). They are an extraordinary talent - bold, direct and playful. Readers will relish their latest experiments, pushing us to engage with silences and space in new ways. Like a Tree, Walking is destined to join the canon of ecopoetics, reflecting the concerns of our age in fascinating ways.

- Mairi, Lighthouse Bookshop

Watch Read Think Act ep. 13 with Vahni Capildeo


The Roles We Play by Sabba Khan - Newham Bookshop, East London

I am very proud to champion The Roles We Play by local author Sabba Khan. This powerful graphic memoir examines her identity as a second generation Muslim migrant.

- Vivian, Newham Bookshop

Visit Newham Bookshop's website for updates


Consumed by Arifa Akbar - October Books, Southampton

Recalling the heartbreaking clarity of Joan Didion’s Blue Nights, and the socio-historical and cultural confluences of Jessica Au and Arundhati Roy, Consumed is a subtly challenging, quietly poignant, but ultimately hopeful work. We’re incredibly proud to be championing such a daring, trailblazing debut. Consumed is the must read memoir of the year!

- Jonny, October Books

Read more on October Books' blog


Keeping the House by Tice Cin - Pages of Hackney, East London

Keeping the House is simply one of the most innovative and exciting works of London fiction in recent memory. Tice Cin has so warmly and carefully illuminated the complexities of community- and family-making in our corner of the capital, and it’s an honour to champion a book that celebrates migration across multiple generations with such vision, hope, and love.

- Ollie, Pages of Hackney

Listen to Tice Cin's playlist to accompany Keeping the House


Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi - Shelf Life Books and Zines, Cardiff

We're so excited to be championing Somebody Loves You from the shortlist this year. Mona Arshi's writing perfectly describes the beauty of life's quieter moments, we can't wait to get her words into our customer's hands and hearts.

- Rosie, Shelf Life Books and Zines

Follow Shelf Life Books and Zines on Twitter


Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller - Storysmith, Bristol

It's such a pleasure to be championing Kei Miller's lyrical and engaging essay collection, as part of a stunning shortlist for this year's Jhalak Prize! With bold and creative ideas and powerful storytelling, Things I Have Withheld embodies so many of the qualities and values that the Jhalak Prize represents, we're excited for more readers to discover this beautiful book.

- Emily, Storysmith

Follow Storysmith Books on Twitter


Jhalak Children's & YA Prize Shortlist

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíkí-Íyímídé - Afrori Books, Brighton

Afrori Books are delighted to champion Ace Of Spades for the Jhalak Prize. Afrori Books is here to support black authors, create diverse bookshelves and be a voice against injustice. This amazing book is an outstanding thriller that is not afraid to deal with the destructiveness of institutional racism. In the current climate with what is happening to our young people in school, this book is more relevant than ever and we could not think of a better book to be shortlisted and one that sits so well with our values.

- Carolynn, Afrori Books

Follow Afrori Books on Twitter


Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan - Children's Bookshop, Muswell Hill

What's a joy it's been to champion such an inventive and funny book! We were drawn to the love and affection for the cultural and character idiosyncracies, and so warmly and humourously drawn. The perfect portrait of friendship and family, and a pleasure to put into the hands of our children!

- Sanchita, Children’s Bookshop Muswell Hill

Find out how the shop are celebrating on Twitter


Musical Truth by Jeffrey Boakye, illustrated by Ngadi Smart - Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham

Being of a certain age, I was interested to read the chapters about Linton Kwezi Johnson's 'Sonny's Lettah' and The Specials' 'Ghost Town' which were part of the soundtrack of my youth, and the last few years we've heard Lord Kitchener's calypso 'London is the Place for Me' in so many programmes about the Windrush Generation. But I am pretty ignorant about more recent Black British music. This book will really help, not least as you can read the chapters on Jords, Dave, Fuse ODG and others then watch the linked YouTube playlist of the whole book.

- Ross, Five Leaves Bookshop

Watch Five Leaves' interview with Jeffrey Boakye


The Crossing by Manjeet Mann - La Biblioteka, Sheffield

I’m really happy to be championing The Crossing this year, and innovative and intimate telling of two echoing voices trying to make sense of their journey through grief and trauma.

-  Alex, La Biblioteka

Follow La Biblioteka on Twitter


We're Going to Find the Monster by Malorie Blackman, illustrated by Dapo Adeola - Mostly Books, Abingdon

We are so happy that Mostly Books is championing We’re Going to Find the Monster for this year’s Jhalak Prize. We love how brilliantly this picture book captures the wonder and expanse of children’s imaginations. To be able to champion not one, but two incredible talents in the form of Malorie Blackman and Dapo Adeola is a great privilege, and we can’t wait to get started.

- Sarah, Mostly Books

Read The Abingdon Herald's piece about Mostly Books


The Sound of Everything by Rebecca Henry - Round Table Books, Brixton

The Sound of Everything is a compelling upper YA title that will resonate with anyone who has struggled with feeling invisible and finding their place and people. The narrative is gritty, realistic and authentic. Rebecca Henry strikes a fine balance between complex character development and page-turner. I recommend this to anyone who would like to read a truly unique story; unlike anything I have read before.

- Meera, Round Table

Follow Round Table on Twitter





The Jhalak Prize shortlist



Jhalak Prize Shortlist


by Arifa Akbar (Sceptre)

Keeping the House

by Tice Cin (And Other Stories)

Like a Tree, Walking

by Vahni Capildeo (Carcanet)

Somebody Loves You

by Mona Arshi (And Other Stories)

The Roles We Play

by Sabba Khan (Myriad)

Things I Have Withheld

by Kei Miller (Canongate)

The Jhalak Children's & YA Prize shortlist


Jhalak Children's & YA Prize Shortlist
Ace of Spades

by Faridah Àbíkí-Íyímídé (Usborne)

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths

by Maisie Chan (Piccadilly Press)

The Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs

by Jeffrey Boakye (illustrated Ngadi Smart) (Faber)

The Crossing

by Manjeet Mann (Penguin)

The Sound of Everything

by Rebecca Henry (Everything With Words)

We're Going to Find the Monster

by Malorie Blackman & Dapo Adeola (Penguin) 



The Jhalak Prize Longlist 2022



The Jhalak Prize longlist 2022A Blood Condition

by Kayo Chingonyi (Chatto & Windus)

Brown Baby

by Nikesh Shukla (Bluebird / Pan Macmillan)


by Arifa Akbar (Sceptre / Hachette)

Gay Bar

by Jeremy Atherton Lin (Granta)


by Cynthia Miller (Nine Arches Press)

Keeping the House

by Tice Cin (And Other Stories)

Like a Tree, Walking

by Vahni Capildeo (Carcanet)

Somebody Loves You

by Mona Arshi (And Other Stories)

The Khan

by Saima Mir (PointBlank / Oneworld)

The Roles We Play

by Sabba Khan (Myriad)

Things I Have Withheld

by Kei Miller (Canongate)

Things We Do Not Tell People We Love

by Huma Qureshi (Sceptre / Hachette)



The Jhalak Children's & YA Prize Longlist 2022


The Jhalak Children's & YA Prize longlistAce of Spades

by Faridah Àbíkí-Íyímídé (Usborne)


by Tanya Byrne (Hodder Children’s)

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths

by Maisie Chan (Piccadilly Press)

Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up

by Melissa Cummings-Quarry & Natalie A. Carter (Bloomsbury)

How Was That Built: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures

by Roma Agrawal & Katie Hickey (Bloomsbury)

Lionheart Girl

by Yaba Badoe (Head of Zeus)

Luna Loves Dance

by Joseph Coelho & Fiona Lumbers (Andersen Press)

The Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs

by Jeffrey Boakye (illustrated Ngadi Smart) (Faber)

Rumaysa, A Fairy Tale

by Radiya Hafiza (illustrated Rhaida El Touny) (Macmillan Children’s)

The Crossing

by Manjeet Mann (Penguin)

The Sound of Everything

by Rebecca Henry (Everything With Words)

We're Going to Find the Monster

by Malorie Blackman & Dapo Adeola (Penguin) 


The Judges


The 2022 Jhalak Prize judges are:


The Jhalak Prize

Chimene Suleyman, Stephen Thompson and Mary Jean Chan


Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize

Patrice Lawrence, Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Sufiya Ahmed

Book Doctor: Yvonne Battle-Felton answers your reading questions

Yvonne Battle-Felton, judge for the Jhalak Prize 2021 and author of Remembered, joined us as our guest Book Doctor, prescribing the best reads for whatever you need.

Read more

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