Berlin Writing Prize 2019

UPDATE: The 2019 Berlin Writing Prize is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! You can check out the longlist here, the shortlist and winner will be announced on October 1st.


The 2019 Berlin Writing Prize is now open for submissions! Until the closing date of June 30, 2019, we invite entries on the theme “The Circus” from both published and unpublished writers resident anywhere in the world.

Up for grabs is a one-month residency in a luxury apartment in one of the world’s most creative destinations for travellers, Berlin’s Circus Hotel. From January 4th to February 3rd 2020, the winning author will have a month to write, a free four-day pass to The British Council Germany’s Literary Seminar, and access to the famously inspiring Berliner Luft!

Alongside a host of runner up prizes, a shortlist of ten writers will be published in an anthology by the independent Berlin press KLAK Verlag. Last time, our 2017 shortlist featured both unpublished writers and debut novelists, including two who went on to be longlisted for The Booker Prize in 2018. We’ve already had requests from literary agents to view our next longlist. All of which meaning that if you are an emerging writer, our competition is one you should seriously consider entering. Read on to find out more about the prizes, our panel of illustrious judges, partners, sponsors, the rules, submission guidelines and how to enter.


Theme: The Circus

Genre: Prose (fiction and non-fiction)

Length: Max. 3000 words, excluding title

Entry Fee: 12 euros via PayPal, submission via email to (see Submission Guidelines below)

Opens: January 10th, 2019

Closes: Midnight June 30th, 2019

Announcements: Longlist mid-August 2019. Winners will be announced on October 1st, 2019

Prize Giving Event: January 2020 (date tbc)

Residency Dates: January 4th to February 3rd, 2020


Winner: A one-month (four-week) residency at Berlin’s The Circus Hotel to take place from January 4th to February 3rd, 2020. The competition winner will receive their very own apartment, plus a month’s breakfast vouchers for the Circus Hostel, and up to 100 euros in travel costs toward their travel to Berlin. The winning entry will be showcased in a Reader Berlin anthology published by KLAK Verlag in January 2020.

In addition, The British Council Germany has generously offered the winner a place as a delegate at the British Council Literature Seminar 2020, due to take place over three days during the residency. The seminar, in its 37th 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.

Runners Up: Two runners up will receive two nights in a double room at The Circus Hotel over February’s competition prize-giving event in January 2020 (dates to tbc in early 2019), and 100 euros each towards their travel 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 January 2020. 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 six judges.

MAY-LAN TAN studied fine art at Goldsmiths and works as a ghostwriter. She’s the author of the story collection Things to Make and Break (shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award) and the chapbook Girly. Her stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Atlas Review, the Reader, and Areté. She lives in Berlin. twitter: @amanlyant

(Photograph Bettina Volke)



KATRIN SCHÖNIG is the general manager of the Circus Hotel in Berlin where the winner of the Berlin Writing Prize 2019 will stay for the duration of their residency. A long time lover of books, Katrin has a Master’s degree in English and German Literature from Humboldt University 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, and you can find her on Instagram at @kaschoe_berlin.

(Photograph Simon Becker)



SOPHIE MACKINTOSH grew up in Wales and is now based in London. Her debut novel, The Water Cure, was published by Hamish Hamilton in 2018 and longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Her work has appeared in Granta, The New York Times and SLEEK, amongst others, and she was the winner of the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize, the 2016 Stylist x Virago Short Story Prize, and shortlisted for the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize. Twitter: @fairfairisles

(Photograph Sophie Davidson)



ELNATHAN JOHN is a lawyer, novelist and satirist. His fiction was shortlisted twice for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013 and 2015. He was the recipient of the Civitella Ranieri fellowship in 2015.  His novel, Born on a Tuesday won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Nigeria Prize for Literature, the Republic of Consciousness Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. One of Nigeria’s best known satirists, Elnathan is a recipient of the 2018 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and is a judge of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. He has two books — a satire collection Be(com)ing Nigerian, A Guide and a graphic novel On Ajayi Crowther Street —forthcoming from Cassava Republic Press in 2019. twitter @elnathan_john


MARTIN JANKOWSKI is editor-in-chief of the multilingual Berlin online magazine and directs its international reading series PARATAXE. A writer and poet who emerged from the 1980s East German oppositional underground in Leipzig, he is co-founder of the international literature festival berlin (ilb, 2001) and the Network Freie Literaturszene Berlin (NFLB, 2015). Since 2005 Martin has chaired the Berliner Literarische Aktion. twitter: @stadtsprachen




VICTORIA GOSLING is the founder of The Reader Berlin and The Berlin Writing Prize. An editor, writer and consultant, she has worked with innumerable writers and consulted on a wide range of publications currently available in print and online.






The Berlin Writing Prize is brought to you by The Reader Berlin in partnership with The Circus Hotel and The British Council Germany.

THE CIRCUS HOTEL is a home from home for travellers. As an independent hostel, hotel and suite of apartments in the heart of Berlin, The Circus has been welcoming guests to one of the world’s most inspiring cities for more than twenty years. With a varied programme of cultural events, a carefully curated selection of services and facilities, a roof terrace with spectacular views, cutting edge design and a team of committed hosts ready to welcome its guests, The Circus never stands still.

THE BRITISH COUNCIL GERMANY is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. Amongst their other work, they are a firm supporter of the arts and literature. The annual British Council Literature Seminar has been bringing together authors, readers and writers for workshops, readings and events for nearly 40 years.

We also owe a great debt of gratitude to our sponsors, whose support is essential to what we do, and who all – each in their own way – represent the free-thinking, innovative, independent spirit of Berlin.

BUCHHAFEN BERLINis a small, independent bookshop that opened in Schillerkiez in October 2016, and a splendid addition to Berlin’s independent bookshop scene. Offering a unique mixture of titles, BuchHafen stocks books in Turkish, German and English. Enjoy a tea or coffee as you browse through the collection of world literature, children’s books, theory, graphic novels and coffee table books.

KLAK Verlag is a Berlin-based publisher run by the inimitable Jörg Becken. Publishing everything from poetry to photo books, from history to fiction, KLAK translates and publishes work by award-winning authors of many different nationalities including Czech, Georgian, Lithuanian, Estonian, and British -alongside a host of German-language writers. Often found at book fairs across Europe, KLAK proudly flies the flag for the international independent literature scene.

Einstein Unter Den Linden was taken over by the team behind Grill Royal in 2016. Building on the traditional character of the café-restaurant beloved for its classic Austrian cuisine, the team have complemented the popular breakfast and lunch menus with new evening and wine menus and a weekly changing Plat Du Jour menu. Favouring regional producers with further products sourced from Voralberg, Salzburg, Vienna and other regions of Austria, Einstein Unter Den Linden is – from early till late – the destination for old and new Berliners, politicians, journalists, tourists and flaneurs, in search of coffee, cake or the best Wiener Schnitzel in the city.

Tom Moore is a Berlin-based artist, film-maker and musician, and responsible for our lovely artwork. Tom also runs evening classes and workshops. You can sign up here.

R.S.V.P. Papier in Mitte was founded in 2001. Situated in the heart of Berlin, RSVP consists of two shops on opposite sides of the same street and an online store. A haven for stationery lovers, stock includes fine paper and writing materials from all over the world, with a particular emphasis on classical printing techniques like silk screen, letterpress, and woodcut.

SAND Journal is Berlin’s premier English-language literary journal. A nonprofit endeavour published twice a year by a team from the city’s international community, SAND features work by writers, translators, and artists from around the world and seeks out fresh and underrepresented perspectives. Twitter: @SANDJournal


  1. Firstly, pay the entry fee of 12 euros via PayPal to 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 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 June 30th, 2019 at midnight Berlin time.
  2. Entrants must be 18 years old or over on the closing date, June 30th, 2019.
  3. The maximum length of submissions is 3,000 words (does not include title). There is no minimum length.
  4. The 2019 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 12 euros for each entry submitted. Entries must be submitted via separate emails. Payment of the entry fee must be made via PayPal to 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.
  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 June 30th, 2019. Any entry found guilty of plagiarism 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, i.e. email address, contact info, etc.
  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 to confirm their entry has been received. Contact via email in the first instance is preferable.
  11. No entrant to the 2019 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 cannot comment or give feedback on individual entries.
  12. By entering, entrants agree that if they are shortlisted for the prize, their entry will be published in a Reader Berlin anthology in both print and ebook formats in English and in German translation. Their entry may also be published online. Authors will retain worldwide copyright of their work (including film and dramatic rights) but The Reader Berlin has first publication rights to publish the 10 shortlisted pieces. The shortlisted pieces must not have been previously published, in print or online (including self-published, ebook, magazines, journals, websites, blogs, social-networking sites), or broadcast or have won a prize in another writing competition on or before June 30th, 2019.
  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 prize-winners’ 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 2019 Berlin Writing Prize Event in January 2020. 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 2019 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 2019 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. To request a press release, or with regard to any queries, please contact

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