Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize


key information



submissions closed

19 Jun - 1 Oct 23


February 2024


March 2024

Footnote Press and Counterpoints Arts have partnered to launch the 2023-24 Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize for writers from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The submissions window is now closed.

The £15,000 award, which includes an advance of £5,000 and a publication agreement with Footnote Press, is for narrative non-fiction centred around themes of displacement, identity and/or resistance. Anyone from a refugee or migrant background is eligible to submit an entry for the prize if they are resident in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland, whether they have previously been published or not. You do not need to have finished writing your book in order to enter.

The prize is developed in association with the Southbank Centre, and supported by John Ellerman Foundation, Doughty Street Chambers, Spread the Word, Dartington Estate and the Bookseller. 

Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize

Footnote Press launched in 2022 in partnership with Bonnier Books UK as a mission-oriented publisher committed to driving social and narrative change. We seek to centre marginalised stories and perspectives — other ways of thinking, being and organising that forefront diversity of experience whilst highlighting our shared humanity. Our books dismantle received wisdoms and paint illuminating visions of the future, often drawing on the foundational human themes of migration, identity, separation, resistance and reclamation. Find out more about Footnote here

Counterpoints Arts is a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change. Their mission is to support and produce the arts by and about migrants and refugees, seeking to ensure that their contributions are recognised and welcomed within British arts, history and culture. Find out more about Counterpoints here.

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Our Judges_

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She has published 19 books, 12 of which are novels, including her latest The Island of Missing Trees, shortlisted for the Costa  Award, British Book Awards, RSL Ondaatje Prize and Women’s Prize for Fiction. She is a bestselling author in many countries around the world and her work has been translated into 57 languages. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize; and was Blackwell’s Book of the Year. The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among the 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. The Architect’s Apprentice was chosen for the Duchess of Cornwall’s inaugural book club, The Reading Room. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne’s College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow. She also holds a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bard College.

Shafak is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature and has been chosen among BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women. She is a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). An advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of expression, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice TED Global speaker. Shafak contributes to major publications around the world and she was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people “who will give you a much-needed lift of the heart”. She has judged numerous literary prizes, including PEN Nabokov prize and she has chaired the Wellcome Prize. Shafak was awarded the Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize for her contribution to ‘the renewal of the art of storytelling’.

Philippe sands

Philippe Sands is Professor of Public Understanding of Law at University College London, and Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He served as President of English PEN until last year, and is on the board of the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature.

Author of many academic books, he has also published  East West Street (2016) and The Ratline (2020). Philippe is an occasional contributor to many publications, including the Guardian, Financial Times and New York Times, and appears regularly on the BBC and CNN. His latest book, The Last Colony, was published in September 2022.

Dina Nayeri is the author of two novels and two books of creative nonfiction, Who Gets Believed? (2023) and The Ungrateful Refugee (2019), winner of the Geschwister Scholl Preis and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and Elle Grand Prix des Lectrices, and called by The Guardian “a work of astonishing, insistent importance.” Her essay of the same name was one of The Guardian’s most widely read long reads in 2017, and is taught in schools and anthologized around the world. A 2019-2020 Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, and winner of the 2018 UNESCO City of Literature Paul Engle Prize, Dina has won a National Endowment for the Arts literature grant, the O. Henry Prize, and Best American Short Stories, among other honors. 

Her work has been published in 20+ countries and in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications.  Her short dramas have been produced by the English Touring Theatre and The Old Vic in London.  She is a graduate of Princeton, Harvard, and the Iowa Writers Workshop.  In autumn 2021, she was a Fellow at the American Library in Paris. She is currently working on plays, screenplays, and her upcoming publications include The Waiting Placea nonfiction children’s book about refugee camp, Who Gets Believeda creative nonfiction book, and Sitting Birda novel. She has recently joined the faculty at the University of St. Andrews. 

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