Leicester Book Prize

Update: The Leicester Book Prize will return in 2020.


“As well as literary and aesthetic quality, we will reward texts which represent or embody the values which we see as characteristic of the city: diversity, individuality, multiculturalism, democracy and an ever-surprising eccentricity. For that reason, the prize will aim to treat texts which are independently published, self-published or, in some way, marginalised, on an equal footing with books from major publishers. It will aim to celebrate books which have been overlooked by the mainstream.”


The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan


The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan

Animal Lovers by Rob Palk

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Neon Sky by Maud Wainwright-Pilton

Rod Duncan is the author of four crime novels, including the Riot Trilogy: Backlash (which earned him a nomination for the John Creasey Dagger Award), Breakbeat and Burnout. His romantic comedy screenplay How to Make a Movie for 43 Pounds was made in 2014 and a second, narrated by Warwick Davis, is currently in post-production. The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, first in the Gas-Lit Empire series, was nominated for the Philip K Dick Award.

The Queen of All Crows

Scientific progress has been stifled for 200 years and the arms race outlawed. But something is stirring in the wilderness beyond the borders of civilisation.  When an airship is destroyed over the North Atlantic, Elizabeth Barnabus loses her dearest friend. Setting out to investigate, she discovers forces at work that may be about to bring the age of order crashing down.

Rob Palk wrote his first book while recovering from a nearly fatal illness and the collapse of his marriage. This book was written in London, Burgundy and Haifa but the author now lives in Leicester with several other writers and a cat.

Animal Lovers

When Stuart marries Marie after a serious illness, he doesn’t foresee her leaving him within four months of their honeymoon. She becomes passionately involved in protesting the badger cull, abandoning him to join fellow activists in the Gloucestershire woods. Stuart refuses to admit it’s over, feigning an interest in badgers in order to win her back. Though he’s accounted for her attachment to the badgers, he hasn’t considered her burgeoning interest in Henry, a handsome protester. As tensions rise and new relationships form, secrets bubble to the surface – including some which may have been best left hidden.

Mahsuda Snaith is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014, and a finalist in the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition 2013. She lives in Leicester where she leads writing workshops and teaches part-time in primary schools. Mahsuda is a fan of reading (obviously) and crochet (not so obviously). This is her first novel.

The Things We Thought We Knew

Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced slugs and went into the woods to play. But now everything has changed. Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome. And her best friend Marianne is gone. How did their last adventure go so wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne?

My name is Maud Wainwright-Pilton, and I am sixteen years old. I live in Rothley, with my parents and a sister, all of whom I adore. I have always been a writer, even if my earliest works are held together by nothing more than sellotape and badly written plot lines. I am currently doing my GCSEs, hoping to study English (of course), Art History and German, at A-level. This is my first published work, and it is written in aid of Go Make A Difference in Tanzania, with whom I will be working, along with seven other members of my church, over the summer.

Neon Sky

Logan has always been one half of a pair. Her whole life she has shared everything with her sister—her room, her best friend, even her dreams. But they are almost sixteen, and as their birthday approaches, Logan finds herself left behind in Bear’s pursuit of the world.


We’re thrilled to announce this year’s judging panel:

Jonathan Taylor is an author, editor, critic and lecturer. His books include the novels Melissa (Salt, 2015) and Entertaining Strangers (Salt, 2012), and the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007). His second poetry collection, Cassandra Complex, will be published by Shoestring Press in Summer 2018. He is director of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. He lives in Leicestershire with his wife, the poet Maria Taylor, and their twin daughters, Miranda and Rosalind. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.

Matthew Vaughan has always loved stories, poems and books of all shapes and sizes and reads widely. So, when forced to change career in his early forties due to ill health, the job advertised in Leicester’s famous Pork Pie Library seemed like the perfect fit. After taking up a post as a Senior Library Assistant in 2011, Matthew has had many successes in the city’s library service. He splits his working time between managing Westcotes Library, as part of the team managing Leicester Central Library and as a Development Librarian with responsibility for adult reader development. In this latter capacity he has been lucky enough to work with many inspiring and talented local authors, poets, performers and publishers, he represents libraries on the steering group of Everybody’s Reading, and is currently developing a reading group project with BBC Radio Leicester. Matthew is also developing his own skills as an oral storyteller and his own writing projects. Despite his busy work life and many personal interests, Matthew always makes sure he has time to enjoy his family life and says that this is the very core of who he is.

Farhana Shaikh is a writer and publisher born in Leicester. She edits The Asian Writer, an online magazine championing Asian literature and runs the small press Dahlia Publishing which publishes regional and diverse writing. Farhana hosts the popular Writers Meet Up Leicester as well as Leicester Writes Festival of New Writing. In 2017, she won Travelex & Penguin’s The Next Great Travel Writer competition and is currently part of Curve’s Cultural Leadership programme. She has been longlisted for the Thresholds Feature Writing competition and Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize.


The Leicester Book Prize is for writers who have had a book published between May 2017 – April 2018. Your book may be published traditionally, self published or lovingly stitched together with bits of sellotape. It might be a poetry book, or a comic book, a book for children or a hundred thousand word epic. As long as it’s a book written by a Leicester(shire) writer it’s eligible for this new prize!

The Leicester Book Prize Award Ceremony takes place at The Exchange on June 12th. Finalists will need to be available to attend and present their book, pitching before a panel of judges and members of the audience. We are not suggesting a rap battle, but a short reading and a short statement on why you deserve to win. The audience will vote for their favourite but our panel will decide the overall winner.

1. To enter please email f.shaikh@dahliapublishing.co.uk using ‘Leicester Book Prize’ in the subject heading, with an advanced information sheet and a 150 word statement why your book deserves to win the book of the year. If you are published by a traditional publisher, you should be able to obtain your AIS from them. If not, please send us a word document with the following information: book title, number of pages, format, key talking points, the blurb (the teaser usually found at the back of a book) along with your 150 word statement.
2. Please include your name, postcode (to prove you are indeed a Leicester(shire) writer), and contact number.
3. All entries must be made by  May 25th 2018. Late entries will not be considered, and any entries that don’t follow the rules will be automatically disqualified.
4. Up to six finalists will be chosen to present on the night.
5. As well as having the glory of the title ‘Leicester Book of the Year’ for a period of at least 12 months, the winner will receive a trophy, promotion through Dahlia Publishing and Leicester Writes and best of all, a chocolate brownie. Should a private benefactor step forward to support this new prize, any monies will be passed to the winner within 30 days.
6. The winner may be expected to take part in future events, present themselves publicly and read from their winning book.
7. If your book has been lovingly stitched together with bits of sellotape and is selected as a finalist (Leicester did win the premiership so it could happen!), it might be sensible to consider some sort of lamination.
8. Our judging panel will be selecting finalists from this year’s longlist, chosen by publisher and chair, Farhana Shaikh.