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Spellzone Writer Shortlisted for Prestigious Prize


We are delighted to announce that one of our writers Avani Shah has been shortlisted for the 2017 Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize.

The prize is now in its second year and, according to Danuta Kean, writing for The Guardian, was ‘set up in 2015 to find “fresh compelling writing” by minority ethnic writers in the wake of the Writing the Future report of 2015, which revealed the poor representation of black and Asian writers of fiction in the UK.’ You can find out more about the prize here.

Avani, who holds a Master of Arts with Distinction in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) from the University of East Anglia, has been writing for Spellzone since 2013. She says, ‘It wasn’t until I started working with Spellzone that I realised just how much of my understanding of the English language was instinctive. I knew particular spelling and grammar rules but never questioned how and why these rules came to exist. Learning about the origins of words and idioms for my articles has made me look at the language and my own writing in a totally different way. It has helped me understand that language is fluid and we can be creative about how we choose to use it.’ As well as short stories, Avani is working on a novel about photography and punk set in 1977 against the backdrop on the Grunwick Strike. The story follows the lives of three sisters in the wake of their mother’s death. You can read an extract here and find more of her work here.

Kean writes: ‘Announcing the shortlist, Sian Cain, judge and Guardian books website editor, praised the “sheer range of styles and settings”, which she said demonstrated “how many different stories publishers are missing when they pass on publishing British BAME writers”. […] Greed by Avani Shah – who grew up behind the counter in various newsagents’ shops around London – tells the story of 12-year-old Puja, who is finding a religious fast increasingly uncomfortable, while trying to make sense of why her relationship with family friend Akaash has changed. Based in Norwich, Shah has already been spotted by Word Factory, a national organisation supporting excellence in short fiction, and is one of its four 2017 apprentices.’

The lucky winner of the prize – announced on July 13th – will receive £1000 as well as a one-day workshop with 4th Estate and publication on the Guardian website. We have our fingers crossed!


19 Jun 2017
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"
Teacher, High School, UK

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