Festival director Ahlam Bolooki.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s prestigious competition to discover unpublished novelists, the Montegrappa Writing Prize, is now open for 2020. The competition has a proven track record in finding new writing talent, producing eight published authors in the last six years and although a publishing deal isn’t guaranteed, it is recognised as one of the most significant ways for writers in the region to get their work noticed.
Novelists that have never been published are eligible to enter, provided they are 21 years or older and resident in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman or Saudi Arabia. Entries can be on any theme, but must be in English and include a 400-word synopsis of the book and the first 2,000 words of the almost completed manuscript.
The closing date for submissions is Nov.27.
Entrants can sharpen their skills and get tips on how to write a bestselling novel at a workshop led by two of the competition’s success stories. Annabel Kantaria, who won the first Montegrappa Writing Prize, and Jessica Jarlvi, who was one of the 2016 winners, both won publishing deals as a direct result of being discovered through the competition. The workshop will take place at the World Trade Club, Dubai on Oct.5.
“We ran our first workshop last year and it was hugely popular, in fact last year’s winner was one of the participants, so it certainly helps competition applicants get on track,” said festival director Ahlam Bolooki. “The results for past winners of the Montegrappa Writing Prize have been amazing and it’s wonderful that through this competition we have been able to put writers from the region on the path to publishing success.”
All entries will be judged by international literary agent Luigi Bonomi, founder of Luigi Bonomi Associates (LBA) and literary agent for several previous Festival authors, including Rachel Hamilton and Lucy Strange, who were both discovered as a result of entering the competition.
The Montegrappa Prize is a bespoke fountain pen customised exclusively for the winner, with an image of their choice hand-engraved on the barrel of the pen. This is an exclusive service usually starting at $6,000.
Charles Nahhas, Montegrappa’s Middle East distributor said, “It is a privilege to be able to actively provide a platform for discovering new authors through the Montegrappa Writing Prize. As Italy’s oldest manufacturer of hand-crafted writing instruments, there is no better way for us to celebrate the creative writing process than by helping new authors embark on their writing careers.”
The winner of the Prize will also have the chance to discuss their manuscript with Luigi Bonomi and although a book deal is not guaranteed, a number of past winners have gone on to earn multi-book deals and become published authors. The winner will also receive a two-night stay at a five-star hotel in Dubai.
The winner will be announced at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2020, which will bring the brightest and best writers, thinkers and creators to Dubai to inspire, enlighten and entertain. The festival offers contemporary fiction of all kinds, from romance to crime, fantasy to domestic noir, plus the hottest YA writers and a brilliant programme for children including lots of free family fun events and the Festival Fringe showcasing drama and music from schools and community groups around the region.
The festival also provides a platform to the nation’s best young poets and writers with its annual creative writing competitions, the Taaleem Award for Poetry and the Story Writing Competition. Fixtures on the academic calendar, the competitions run in Arabic and in English. Entries are invited from full-time students in schools, colleges and universities in the GCC, with the competitions divided into age-specific categories – 11 and under, 12-14, 15-17 and 18-25. The winners will be honoured in special ceremonies held during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in 2020, and the winning entries published in a commemorative book.
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