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The Jhalak Prize: Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour

The Jhalak Prize and the newly launched Jhalak Children's & YA Prize seek to support and celebrate books by British and British resident writers of colour. 

Jhalak Prize

The prize was founded by writers Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla. Previous winners  are: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi for The First Woman (Oneworld), 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 in 2017. The inaugural Jhalak Childrens & Young Adult Prize was won by Patrice Lawrence for Eight Pieces of Silva (Hachette Childrens) in 2021.

2021's winners were announced at a virtual ceremony on 25th May, in conjunction with The British Library.




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. In 2021 we distributed point of sale kits and social media assets to nigh on 100 bookshops so they could create instore displays and shout about the longlists, shortlists and winners from their online channels, and worked with 12 independent bookshop champions to promote individual titles from the shortlists.


Submissions for the 2022 Jhalak Prize are now open! Visit to learn more.


Of the 2021 winners, prize cofounder Sunny Singh said, "The 2021 Jhalak judges have picked two books that are towering literary achievements, full of authorly courage, stylistic panache and great heart. Patrice Lawrence’s Eight Pieces of Silva and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman are very different books in terms of readers they address, the styles they develop and themes they explore but they both confront terrible realities, ask painful questions and experiment playfully with form, style and language. Most of all, they both find strength, compassion and resilience in places and times where these seem entirely impossible. In their complex, nuanced explorations of the human experience, Lawrence and Makumbi both find hope, joy and reasons to cherish and celebrate our shared humanity."

In honour of each prize winner, two Jhalak Artists in Residence have created bespoke artwork inspired by the winning titles. You can see the artwork below and read more here

The Jhalak Prize Winner



"A beautifully woven, intricate novel weaving together family history, traditions, cultural norms, history, and more." – Yvonne Battle-Felton


"A fabulous, wide-ranging, complex, funny and sad coming-of-age story with one of the most engaging heroines in years . . . The First Woman is a triumph." – Louise Doughty


"In Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi we have a giant of literature living among us." – Peter Kalu


London artist and designer Amber Khokhar has created the trophy for Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's The First Woman. 


The Jhalak Children's & YA Prize Winner



"Powerful, unputdownable and totally satisfying." – Candy Gourlay

"A mystery, a drama, and a comedy, it feels like a book that is entirely of the moment, but with qualities that will make it endure [...] the perfect inaugural winner of the Jhalak Children's and Young Adult Book Award." – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Artist and illustrator Ruthine Burton has created the inaugural trophy for the new Jhalak Children’s & Young Adult Prize.

Jhalak 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. Following the shortlist announcement in April, they've been sharing videos, interviews and more on Twitter, Instagram and their websites, all in celebration of their individual title. Have a look below to see what they've shared.


Jhalak Prize Shortlist

Antiemetic for Homesickness - Pages of Hackney, Hackney

Read Hackney Gazette's feature

Inferno - Griffin Books, Penarth Wales

Read Penarth Times' feature

My Darling From the Lions - Mostly Books, Abingdon

Read Oxford Mail's feature

The First Woman - Newham Bookshop, Newham

Head over to their site

Are We Home Yet?
- October Books, Southhampton

Read more over on their site

Rainbow Milk - Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh

Watch their video

Jhalak Children's & YA Prize Shortlist

The GA Picture Alphabet - Round Table Books, Brixton

Head over to Twitter

When Life Gives You Mangoes - Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham

Watch their Q&A video

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly - Storysmith, Bristol

Head over to Instagram

Queen of Freedom - The Hastings Bookshop, Hastings

Read Hastings Observer's feature

Eight Pieces of Silva - La Biblioteka, Sheffield

Head over to Twitter

A Fox Called Herbert - Children's Bookshop, Muswell Hill

Check out their Q&A



The Jhalak Prize shortlist


Antiemetic for HomesicknessJhalak Prize Shortlist

by Romalyn Ante (Chatto Poetry)


by Catherine Cho (Bloomsbury Circus)

My Darling From the Lions

by Rachel Long (Picador Poetry)

The First Woman

by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Oneworld)

Are We Home Yet?

by Katy Massey (Jacaranda)

Rainbow Milk

by Paul Mendez (Dialogue Books)

The Jhalak Children's & YA Prize shortlist


The GA Picture AlphabetJhalak Children's & YA Prize Shortlist

by Nii Ayikwei Parkes & Avril Filomeno (Self-published)

When Life Gives You Mangoes

by Kereen Getten (Pushkin Press)

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly

by Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster)

Queen of Freedom

by Catherine Johnson (Pushkin Press)

Eight Pieces of Silva

by Patrice Lawrence (Hachette Children’s)

A Fox Called Herbert

by Margaret Sturton (Andersen Press)


Of the two prize shortlists, Jhalak Prize cofounder Sunny Singh said, "This year's Jhalak judges have selected – with much care and affection – two incredible shortlists that exemplify resilience, rebuilding, community and joy in literature. These are books that ask painful questions, are searingly honest in their confrontation with terrible realities, and courageously shine a light on aspects of human experience that often remains hidden. In doing so they offer much needed solace, inspiration and joy…for our times and into the future."

The Judges


The 2021 Jhalak Prize judges were:


The Jhalak Prize

Yvonne Battle-Felton, Louise Doughty and Peter Falu


Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize

Candy Gourlay, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Verna Allete Wilkins

Book Doctor: Yvonne Battle-Felton answers your reading questions

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

Read more


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