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Montegrappa Writing Prize

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Have you always wanted to be an author? The Montegrappa Writing Prize gives first-time writers from the GCC (UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) the chance to have their unpublished manuscripts judged by a UK literary agent.

The Montegrappa Writing Prize was launched by the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in 2013 with Montegrappa and UK literary agency Luigi Bonomi Associates. Here’s what you should know:

  • Submit the first 2,000 words of your manuscript and a synopsis of 400 words to be read and judged by top UK literary agent, Luigi Bonomi.
  • The Prize includes individual sessions with Bonomi, a two night stay at the InterContinental Hotel, Festival City Dubai, a Montegrappa Limited Edition pen and a meeting with an editor to discuss the winning manuscript.
  • The top 5 participants will be able to discuss their work with Luigi Bonomi at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2018.
  • Entrants are advised that we are looking for novels rather than short story collections or novellas

While the Prize does not guarantee a book deal, the results speak for themselves with a number of past winners going on to earn multi-book deals and getting published. See some of our success stories below:

Montegrappa Writing Prize Success Stories

Farzeen Ashik – Runner-up 2017


FARZEEN ASHIK spent some of her best childhood years in a boarding school in Ooty, India. Her writing is inspired by her personal experiences. Rainbow Dorm Diaries—the Yellow Dorm is her first book.

Karen Osman – Winner 2016


Dubai-based journalist and editor; her crime-thriller, The Good Mother, earned her a three-book deal with Head of Zeus following her 2016 win.

Jessica Jarlvi – Runner-up 2016


Her novel When I Wake Up won her place in the top five of the 2016 Montegrappa Writing Prize and a subsequent book deal with Aria.

What our 2017 prize winners have said:

The 2017 Prize was won by Rebekah Heaney (What We Learnt at Number 9) and runners-up were Musfira Shaffi (Swiped Away), Jennifer Bromham (Pond), Farzeen Noorie Ashik (Rainbow Dorm Diaries) and Helga Jensen-Forde (Temptation at Tiffany’s).

“Writing is a very solitary pursuit, so it’s hugely important to have the results of that validated by outside forces, especially by industry professionals such as with the Montegrappa Writing Prize. The competition is a priceless opportunity to get your foot in the door of the publishing world and I’m very chuffed to have won.”

Rebekah Heaney, 2017 Prize Winner

“It was unreal, my heart was pumping so loudly I couldn’t hear any of what Luigi said after he started talking about the winning entries. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I wish I could frame that moment and hang it forever.”

Musfira Shaffi, 2017 Runner-Up

[Winning the competition] gave me a boost in confidence that I must be doing something right after all, especially since I’m not a writer by profession, only passion!”

Farzeen Ashik, 2017 Runner-Up

About Luigi Bonomi

Luigi Bonomi is a literary agent who has launched the careers of many bestselling authors. He is the founder of Luigi Bonomi Associates (LBA), which represents a variety of authors, journalists and writers, including John Humphrys, Esther Rantzen and Alan Titchmarsh. In addition to his day job, he is Honorary Professor of Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University and Literary Consultant for the Sunday Times Oxford University Literary Festival. In 2010 he won the Bookseller Industry Award for Literary Agent of the Year.

Bonomi has provided writing tips for aspiring writers here.

About the Competition

What is the closing date?

19th January 2018

Who can enter?

  • The Montegrappa Writing Prize is open to all writers over the age of 21 of any nationality who are currently resident in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait and able to travel to Dubai in March 2018 for the prize-giving
  • The novel can be any genre, but must be in English
  • It is imperative that participants entering the prize intend to complete the manuscript, either before or shortly after the winners are announced in March 2018
  • Entrants must not have had a novel published before* (see below for explanation)

What is the prize?

The winner receives:

  • A Montegrappa Limited Edition pen
  • Lunch or dinner with Literary Agent Luigi Bonomi in Dubai with the chance to discuss next steps on the manuscript
  • A two night stay at the InterContinental Hotel, Festival City Dubai including breakfast and dinner for two at Anise restaurant
  • A meeting with an editor to discuss the manuscript
  • One copy of the current Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook

Four runners-up receive:

  • A Montegrappa pen
  • One copy of the current Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook
  • An individual feedback session with Luigi Bonomi at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

What are the rules?

  • Please read these Prize rules carefully. If you enter, we will assume that you have read these rules and that you agree to them.
  • The administration fee of AED200 is payable online before submission.
  • Your synopsis cannot exceed a maximum of 400 words. Please put the synopsis at the start of your submission
  • Submit ONLY the first 2,000 words of your manuscript
    Important note: Any entries without a synopsis or longer than 2,000 words will be disqualified
  • Entrants may submit more than one entry to the Prize, but each entry must be original material, and must not have been submitted in the previous years’ competitions
  • Each entry must be submitted separately and is subject to the administrative fee
  • Entrants must not be currently represented by or working with a literary agent
  • Winners will be announced only at the prize-giving ceremony held during the Festival. All participants are required to attend the event.


Manuscripts must be:

  • Double-spaced, with pages numbered consecutively
  • In Arial, Courier or Times New Roman font | 12 point size
  • Saved as ‘Manuscript  Title – Your Name’
  • Submitted electronically as a Microsoft Word document via the web site.

Terms and Conditions:

  • No part of a prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize
  • The prize will not be transferable to another person
  • The Prize is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of the Emirates Literature Foundation
  • By entering the Prize, the winner agrees to participate in such promotional activity and material as Emirates Airline Festival of Literature may require
  • While the Literary Agent will give advice to the author at their luncheon, the Literary Agent will be under no obligation whatsoever to represent the winning entry
  • The judge’s decision is final and he cannot engage with entrants for future editorial work or respond to email communications
  • The winning entrant agrees to the use of their name, country of residence and photograph in relation to related publicity material and activities
  • The winner will be announced during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2018
  • The winner must be available to attend the prize-giving event in Dubai between 1-10 March 2018
  • Winners outside the UAE will be notified in advance so that they can organise their travel arrangements for the prize-giving event
  • All entries will be read by Bonomi Associates

* WHAT CONSTITUTES A PUBLISHED NOVEL: For the purpose of this Prize, a ‘Published Novel’ means a work of fiction of at least 40,000 words in length that has been published or distributed, in part or whole, in paper or electronic format or in any other medium, excluding, however, self-published works.

The Competition is Now Closed

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