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Montegrappa Writing Prize

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Prize gives first-time writers from the GCC (UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) the chance to have their unpublished manuscripts judged by a UK literary agent.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 a Five Star hotel in Dubai and a Montegrappa Limited Edition pen.
  • The top 5 participants will be able to discuss their work with Luigi Bonomi at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2019.

Montegrappa Writing Prize Workshop

Open only to registered Montegrappa Writing Prize registrants.

Give yourself the best chance to be a winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize 2019 with an exclusive workshop held by former Montegrappa prize winners Annabel Kantaria and Jessica Jarlvi. Sign up now for the competition and click here for more information about the workshop.

Montegrappa Writing Prize Success Stories

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 get published. See some of our success stories below:

Charlotte Butterfield – Runner-up 2016


Freelance journalist who lives in Dubai earned a second book deal for A Beautiful Day for a Wedding which is set to be published in July 2018.

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.

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 prize winners have said:

The 2018 Prize was won by Jillian Fox (Otherworld) and runners-up were John Weston (Where The Mountains Kiss The Sun), Catriona Riordan (Echo), Johara Almogbel (The Nothing File) and Eric Hilgendorf (Hard Water).

“I was convinced I wouldn’t win…then I heard my book being read out for top prize, and suddenly I’m being photographed, and interviewed, and I’m lunching with Luigi Bonomi and Jacqueline Wilson—unreal! Most importantly, through the Festival and Montegrappa, I’ve been welcomed into an amazing community of writers and artists, and have found the support of a brilliant team of agents at LBA Books. I cannot express what a privilege it is to leapfrog the tricky business of finding representation! Winning, for me, has been a lifechanger.”

Jillian Fox, 2018 Prize Winner

“Entering the Emirates Literature Festival New Writer’s Contest is a must for any aspiring writer. Of course, everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to be valued for all of the hard and lonely work that writing demands. But whether you win or not, the important act is to enter the contest because that is the point in which you are saying, “I am ready for my thoughts to be read by strangers” and that alone is a huge accomplishment. Many can put together a piece of writing that will gain accolades from family and friends but sending your material into the Emirates Literature Festival means that you are taking a step toward writing as a profession. While you are not guaranteed to win, you are guaranteed that your work will be read objectively. There is no better avenue by which to gain the requisite confidence, grit and perseverance the writing life requires.”

Eric Hilgendorf, 2018 Runner-Up

“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

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 past Emirates Airline Festival of Literature attendee Alan Titchmarsh.

Since 2013, Bonomi has judged the Montegrappa Writing Prize and conducted the Quick Pitch, mini-workshops in which aspiring writers can directly pitch their manuscripts and get instant feedback. The Montegrappa Prize has led to numerous UAE-based authors getting publishing deals, a testament to Bonomi’s eye for a bestseller.

Bonomi has provided writing tips for aspiring writers here.

About the Competition

What is the closing date?

18th January 2019

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 2019 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 2019
  • 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 with Literary Agent Luigi Bonomi in Dubai with the chance to discuss next steps on the manuscript
  • A two night stay at a Five Star Hotel in Dubai including breakfast
  • 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
  • A feedback session with Luigi Bonomi at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
  • Winners will be announced only at the prize-giving ceremony held during the Festival. All participants are requested to attend the event

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


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 2019
  • The winner must be available to attend the prize-giving event in Dubai between 1-9 March 2019
  • 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.

Enter the form below:

    How to pay the administrative fee?

    Click here to pay the AED200 fee in order to reserve your place. Once you have paid the fee successfully you will receive an ‘Order Number’ which you have to enter in the box below.

  • After making the payment, you will receive an order number. Please enter it in the box above.

  • Your entry should comprise a synopsis of 400 words and the first 2000 words of your manuscript. Please read the terms and conditions. We accept submissions in .doc, .docx, .rtf and .odf formats

  • I certify that I have read and agree with the terms and conditions.

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