2017 Berlin Writing Prize

The Reader Berlin, The Circus Hotel, and SAND Journal present…

The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize

…sponsored by epubli, The British Council, Elsewhere Journal, and Berlin stationer RSVP

Announcing the winners of 2017 Berlin Writing Prize

We’re delighted to finally be able to announce the winners of this year’s prize. With a stunning short list, making the final decision was far from easy. However, after much discussion, our judges’ decision was unanimous. Without further ado, here goes …

Overall Winner: 

The Wooden Box – Dolores Walshe

2 Runners Up:

Elsewhere, OK – Alissa Jones Nelson

Thirty Six Times – Jodie Noel Vinson

7 Shortlisted Writers

Flying Lessons – Lei Wang

Head like a Hole – Amy Lee Lillard

Holiday with T – Sophie Mackintosh

Sylvia – Daisy Johnson

The Sunshine State – Lizzie Roberts

Unsettled – Pippa Goldschmidt

Whatever Trevor – Sharlene Teo

Dolores Walshe will be undertaking the residency in Berlin at The Circus Hotel, while our 2 runners up win 2-nights’ accommodation at The Circus Hotel over the weekend of our prize-giving and anthology launch party on February 17th, 2018. The remaining 7 writers will be receiving Reader Berlin goody bags and all of our ten shortlisted authors will be published in an anthology. We’ll be keeping you posted about the event and anthology, and hope to celebrate with you in February. Preceding the publication of the anthology, we’ll be publishing excerpts from the shortlist online, and of course SAND Journal will be publishing Dolores’ winning entry in their autumn edition. You can keep up with all the news and our forthcoming courses and events by signing up to our mailing list here. Scroll down for more about the competition and the full long list and honourable mentions.

Thank again to everyone who entered, our judges, partners and sponsors, and hearty congratulations to our winners.

Best wishes,


The Reader Berlin


Our wonderful judging team (From left to right: Florian Duijsens, Paul Scraton, Irenosen Okojie, Katrin Schönig, Michael Salu and Victoria Gosling)


It is with great pleasure that we can finally announce the 10 entries shortlisted for this year’s 2017 Berlin Writing Prize. 

On Tuesday night, judges Irenosen Okojie, Katrin Schönig, Florian Duijsens, Paul Scraton and Michael Salu met in Pankow, Berlin, to decide which writers from the long list would make the final cut. The discussion went on long into the night, but brilliant, delicious catering from Berlin’s Wolf & Peter kept energy levels up while the judges inched towards a decision. With such a high standard of entries, it was no easy matter. We’d like to thank them for their hard work and the seriousness with which they undertook their task.

We’ll be announcing the winning writer and two runners up before the end of the month, but for now, in alphabetical order, we are immensely proud to reveal the 2017 short list! 


2017 Short List

Elsewhere, OK – Alissa Jones Nelson

Flying Lessons – Lei Wang

Head Like a Hole – Amy Lee Lillard

Holiday with T – Sophie Mackintosh

Sylvia – Daisy Johnson

The Wooden Box – Dolores Walshe

The Sunshine State – Lizzie Roberts

Thirty Six Times – Jodie Noel Vinson

Unsettled – Pippa Goldschmidt

Whatever Trevor – Sharlene Teo



Long List announcement:

Thanks to everyone who entered this year’s competition. We had more entries than ever before – many more, in fact. Not only was the standard high, but entries flew in from every corner of the globe. We want more writers in Berlin, and it seems you want to be here too. I only wish we could take over the whole of The Circus Hotel, stuff it with writers on every floor from top to bottom, pencils scattered across the floor, paper floating down the corridors, laptops buzzing from every flat surface. But we only have that one month in one apartment to give away. Traurig!

We promised a long list of 25 writers. What you have here is a long list of 29 writers, plus 11 honourable mentions. That was as far as we could go. The long list is now with our judges who will be reading every entry carefully before they meet in September to pick an overall winner, two runners up and a further seven short-listed writers. And the honourable mentions? Those are the pieces that have been eliminated but which really hurt to cut, or were the cause of vicious fallings out amongst our team of readers. There were more – and their voices will be floating around in my head for a very long time to come. ‘He’s probably out there right now, stealing the cutlery!’

I can’t emphasise enough that amongst the work that did not make our long list are stories by writers who arguably deserved a place (and we did argue, believe me), writers who showed enormous promise, even if the piece they entered didn’t quite sustain the flashes of brilliance quite long enough.

You may wonder why we haven’t published the long-listed authors’ names yet. That’s because we want to keep things anonymous until all the judging is over. We will, of course, be adding the names as soon as it’s finished.

Well, here it is. Thank you for sending us your work.

Best wishes,


The Reader Berlin

2017 Long List

Aaaa! – Amanda Hohenberg

Al-watan – Alissa Jones Nelson

Babel – Lisa Cato

Baby Names – Amy Lee Lillard

Been Fighting Since – K Chess

Egg – Eleanor Thom

Elsewhere, OK – Alissa Jones Nelson

Flying Lessons – Lei Wang

Head Like A Hole – Amy Lee Lillard

Holiday with T – Sophie Mackintosh

I am Rebecca – Meiko Ko

I feel at home everywhere but my home – Leila Segal

In the Body of Moths – Pia Ghosh Roy

Missing Girl, 5, Gone Fifteen Months – Linda Mannheim

Night Sky Over Jamaica – Oga Cho

“Samuel Beckett in berlin -1969” – Tom Evans

Sarah – Tessa Scott

Sylvia – Daisy Johnson

The Jinns of the Windward Side – Selma Cardoso

The Sunshine State – Lizzie Roberts

The Wooden Box – Dolores Walshe

Thirty-Six Times – Jodie Noel Vinson

Turf – Jessica Bonder

Uětlongsul – Dan Ayres

Unsettled – Pippa Goldschmidt

Voice of the soil – Dan Lockton

What I lost in the Fire – Shannon Kernaghan

Whatever Trevor – Sharlene Teo

When the House is Finished – Zaia Alexander

2017 Honourable Mentions

Home is Elsewhere: A 5th Dimensional Travelogue – Erin Reinelt

Marmite – Ruth Barber

Sister Sarya at the End of the World – Gerard McKeown

Please, At Least Let Me Hold You – Jacob Jones

Natural People – Anna Geary-Meyer

My Mother In Snow – Divya Ghelani

Echo House – Adam Smith

Tsumasaki – Tom Watson

Goodbye, Douala – Clementine Burnley

Daniel – Nicola Maye Goldberg

Moving – Duncan Grimes


Original competition text: The Reader Berlin’s fourth annual writing competition is now open. And this year, we’re offering our biggest prize yet, a one-month residency at The Circus Hotel, Berlin!


Virginia Woolf said that ‘a room of one’s own’ was prerequisite to producing good writing. In 2017, The Circus Hotel is generously offering the winner of our writing competition their own luxury apartment in the heart of Berlin for a one-month residency in early 2018. There, the winning writer will have undisturbed time to observe, explore, and write in one of the world’s most inspiring cities.


Until the closing date of July 31, 2017, we invite submissions on the theme ”Home is Elsewhere” from both published and unpublished writers resident anywhere in the world. Our aim is to promote fresh, original writing and provide a platform for emerging writing talent. This year’s judges include award-winning author Irenosen Okojie, author and creative director Michael Salu, SAND editor Florian Duijsens, writer and publisher Paul Scraton, and The Circus Hotel’s own Katrin Schönig.



Theme: Home is Elsewhere

Genre: Prose (fiction and non-fiction)

Length: Max. 3000 words, excluding title

Entry Fee: 9 euros, via Paypal, submission via email to hello@thereaderberlin.com (see Submission Guidelines below)

Opens: April 15, 2017

Closes: Midnight July 31, 2017

Results will be announced on October 1, 2017

Prize Giving Event: February 17th

Residency Dates: January 22 to February 18, 2018


Winner: A one-month (four-week) residency at Berlin’s The Circus Hotel to take place from January 22 to February 18, 2018. The competition winner will receive their very own apartment, plus a month’s worth of breakfast vouchers for the Circus Hostel and up to 100 euros in travel costs to help cover their travel to Berlin. The winning entry will be published in SAND Journal (subject to the magazine’s regular editing and copy-editing) and in a Reader Berlin anthology.

Along with this, The British Council has generously offered  the winner a free place as a delegate at the British Council Literature Seminar 2018 in Berlin, due to take place over three days during the residency. The seminar, in its 33rd year, offers students, academics, publishers, translators, journalists and literature fans the chance to hear the latest writing from the UK and engage with the writers and their work at first hand. Over the years, the list of writers taking part has included Ian McEwan, A S Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Jeanette Winterson and David Nicholls…as well as Berlin Writing Prize judge Irenosen Okojie. In 2017, the live stream of the seminar was watched in 72 countries.

Runners Up: Two runners up will receive two nights in a double room of their own at The Circus Hotel over February’s competition prize-giving event on February 17th, and a travel budget to a maximum of 100 euros each to cover their journey to Berlin. Their winning entries will be published in a Reader Berlin anthology.

Shortlist: A further seven shortlisted writers will win Reader Berlin goodie bags, plus invitations to our prize-giving event in February 2018. Their winning entries will be published on The Reader Berlin’s website and in the anthology.



All submissions will be read by The Reader’s team, which will compile a longlist to be read by our panel of judges.

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and Arts Project Manager and author of Speak Gigantular and Butterfly Fish, which won a Betty Trask award. Her work has been featured in The Observer, The Guardian, the BBC, and the Huffington Post. Hailed by Ben Okri as a dynamic writing talent to watch and featured in the Evening Standard Magazine, she is one of London’s most exciting new authors. Find her at www.irenosenokojie.com and @IrenosenOkojie.


Katrin Schönig is the general manager of the Circus Hotel in Berlin. A long time lover of literature, Katrin has a Master’s degree in English and German Literature and is the events coordinator for Elsewhere: A Journal of Place. Her favourite writers include Erich Kästner, Klaus Mann, Jane Austen, Brigitte Reimann, and Carson McCullers.


Florian Duijsens is the fiction editor at SAND Journal and co-host of the bimonthly Dead Ladies Show at ACUD. He works as a writer, editor, and translator (most recently of Hanna Bervoets’ Everything There Was), and teaches in the “Language & Thinking” program at Bard College Berlin.

Twitter: @neonres


Paul Scraton is a writer and editor based in Berlin. Born in Lancashire, he moved to the German capital in 2001 where he has lived ever since. He is the editor-in-chief of Elsewhere: A Journal of Place and the author of Ghosts on the Shore: Travels along the German Baltic Coast (Influx Press, 2017). Website: www.underagreysky.com.

Twitter: @underagreysky.


Michael Salu is a writer, award-winning creative director, critic, and artist. His fiction, non-fiction, and art have appeared in a range of publications including Tales of Two Cities, Freeman’s Journal, and Catapult.co. Salu runs a multi-disciplinary creative consultancy, SALU.io, and is currently finishing a collection of stories and working on two film projects. He is the former creative director of Granta Publications.


Submission Guidelines

  1. Pay the entry fee of 9 euros via Paypal to hello@thereaderberlin.com and receive your Paypal reference number.
  2. Register for submission via this Google Form.
  3. Submissions are to then be sent via email attachment to competition@thereaderberlin.com.  The subject line of your email must contain the Paypal transaction ID number of your entry-fee payment along with the title of your piece. The attachment must be a Word document or PDF.  Please ensure the title of the Word document or PDF is the official title of your submission (NOT “final draft 4.3” or “edited version”).  Your entry should be anonymous, with page numbers, and double spaced in 12-point text.



  1. Closing date for receipt of entries is July 31, 2017 at midnight Berlin time.
  2. Entrants must be 18 years old or over on the closing date, July 31, 2017.
  3. The maximum length of submissions is 3,000 words (does not include title), there is no minimum length.
  4. The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize is open to all published and unpublished writers. There is no geographical restriction on entry, but all entries must be in English.
  5. Authors may enter as many times as they like. There is an entry fee of 9 euros for each entry submitted.  Entries must be submitted via separate emails. Payment of the entry fee must be made via Paypal to hello@thereaderberlin.com. The Paypal transaction ID for each payment must be entered into the subject line of the submission email.
  6. Entries must be the work of a sole author, no co-authored texts will be accepted.
  7. Entries will not be returned. Please keep a copy. No corrections or alterations can be made to your submission after receipt of the entry, though the winning, runner-up, and longlisted entries will be subject to editing before publication in SAND Journal and the The Reader Berlin anthology.
  8. Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been previously published, either in print or online (this includes self-published work, ebooks, magazines, journals, websites, blogs, social-networking sites), or broadcast or won a prize in another writing competition on or before July 31, 2017. Any entry found to have been plagiarised will be disqualified. Simultaneous submissions are welcome – but please let us know as soon as possible if your submission is to be published elsewhere, in print or online.
  9. Entries will be read and judged anonymously; the entrant’s name and contact details should only appear in the entry email and not anywhere on their manuscripts. The manuscripts must be free of all personal information about the author. This includes things like age and address.
  10. Email entries will be acknowledged by email. If an entrant does not receive an email acknowledgement for an online entry they are very welcome to contact hello@thereaderberlin.com to confirm their entry has been received. Contact via email in the first instance is preferable.
  11. No entrant to the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize may win more than one prize. The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence will be entered into. Judges or readers will not comment on individual entires or give feedback on individual entries.
  12. All entrants must agree to have their work published in a Reader Berlin anthology of the ten shortlisted entries in both print and ebook formats, should they be shortlisted, and in the case of the winner, by SAND Journal. Authors will retain worldwide copyright on their work (including film and dramatic rights) but The Reader Berlin has first publication rights to publish the 10 shortlisted pieces. Each of the shortlisted pieces must never have been previously published, in print or online (including self-published, ebook, magazines, journals, websites, blogs, social-networking sites), or broadcast or won a prize in another writing competition on or before July 31, 2017.
  13. The overall winner must be able to undertake the residency at the Circus Hotel during the specified dates. Dates are not transferrable and no cash alternative is offered. During their residency they will be required to read from their winning piece at the February event and to attend a further evening event to be agreed upon nearer the time with The Circus Hotel. In the event the winner cannot undertake the residency, the title of winner and the respective prizes will pass to the first runner up, and so on.
  14. Prizes will be awarded at the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize Event in February 2018. Results of the competition will be posted on The Reader Berlin website on the aforementioned dates.
  15. Any entrant wishing to withdraw their entry from the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize may do so at any time prior to the closing date. Entry fees cannot be refunded.


Entry implies an acceptance of all The Reader Berlin 2017 Berlin Writing Prize rules, including the right of The Reader Berlin to publish the ten winning entries in print, as an ebook and online. Copyright remains with the author. Entries that fail to comply with the entry rules and requirements may be disqualified.


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