The Kavya Prize

The Kavya Prize aims to celebrate published work and new writing by Scotland’s ethnically diverse communities.

Founded by Indian-born Scottish author Leela Soma, the prize, in association with the Creative Writing Programme at the University of Glasgow, seeks to recognise and encourage writers of colour who are Scottish by birth, residence or formation.

The inaugural prize for full-length published works of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry or short story collections will be awarded in May 2022 and is worth £1000. The winner will also receive a residency at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s National Writing Centre.

In 2023, the prize will focus on shorter form writing by emerging writers. It will then alternate annually between honouring full-length published works and promoting new writing.

Kavya is a popular and well recognised word in Sanskrit and refers to a literary style or a completed body of literature that was used in Indian courts of the Maharajahs who nurtured the cultural arts in India.

Kavya Prize 2022 Winner

‘Toy Plastic Chicken’ by Uma Nada-Rajah, A Play and a Pint (Salamander Street)

Uma Nada-Rajah (She/Her) is a playwright based in Kirknewton, Scotland and is of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage. She is one of the BBC's Scottish Voices 2020 and was most recently the Starter Female Political Comedy writer-in-residence at the National Theatre of Scotland. Uma is a graduate of École Philippe Gaulier and a previous participant of the Royal Court's Young Writers' Programme and the Traverse Theatre's Young Writers' Programme. In 2014 Uma won the New Playwrights Award from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland. She works as a staff nurse with NHS Scotland. 

“I am really touched (and still in shock!) to have been awarded the inaugural Kavya Prize. My respect to all of the organisers and contributors for nurturing a sense of community in the celebration of diverse Scottish voices. Congratulations to all the shortlisted writers.” - Uma Nada-Rajah


“Uma Nada-Rajah’s play, Toy Plastic Chicken had me hooked from the start and I could immediately envisage it enacted on stage to a mesmerised audience. The toy chicken provides the dark humour that intensifies and exposes the absurdity of the situation.  Based on a true story, the play resonates with the audience as it is a familiar scenario. It is funny and compelling , making it  a hugely successful play that needs  to be read and staged again and again.” - Dr Bashabi Fraser

''Toy Plastic Chicken by Uma Nada-Rajah grabbed my attention from the very first start. Intelligent, bold and hilarious it tells a story of our time - how an innocent toy can turn into a terrorist threat at airport security. While reading it, I forgot that I was judging and wanted to grab others and urge them to read it too. Unanimously chosen by all the judges, this is an exciting win, a striking, clever drama on the effects of security rules on both travelers and the staff who must implement them.'' - Leila Aboulela

"Toy Plastic Chicken is written with a sense of playfulness whilst addressing a topical issue. Inviting the reader/audience into a situation of absurdity, hilarity and frustration, the author manages to keep the us engaged with the characters on a human level, despite how we may feel towards them." - Tawona Sithole

Kavya Prize 2022 Shortlisted Authors

The End: Surviving the World Through Imagined Disasters by Katie Goh (404 Ink)

The End: Surviving the World Through Imagined Disasters by Katie Goh (404 Ink)

Katie Goh (She/Her/They/Them) is a writer and journalist of ESEA heritage. She writes for a number of publications including i-D, VICE, the Guardian, the Independent, Huck and gal-dem. In 2021, Katie's essay 'oranges' published in Extra Teeth was shortlisted for the inaugural Anne Brown Prize, organised by BBC Scotland and Wigtown Book Festival. She is a member of the UK Film Critics Circle, co-hosts a monthly radio show on EHFM and has been previously shortlisted for PPA Scotland’s Young Journalist of the Year award. Her first book of non-fiction, The End: Surviving the World Through Imagined Disasters, is published by 404 Ink. Katie lives in Edinburgh.

Kavya prize 2022 shortlisted author Katie Goh with published book cover.

Lament for Sheku Bayoh by Hannah Lavery (Salamander Street)

Lament for Sheku Bayoh by Hannah Lavery (Salamander Street)

Hannah Lavery (She/Her) is a poet and playwright. Her pamphlet, Finding Seaglass was published by Stewed Rhubarb and her poem, Scotland You’re No Mine was selected as one Scotland’s Best Poems for 2019. The Drift, her highly acclaimed autobiographical lyric play, toured Scotland as part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Season 2019 and in 2020, she was selected by Owen Sheers as one of his Ten Writers Asking Questions That Will Shape Our Future for the International Literature Showcase, a project from the National Writing Centre and the British Council. Her second lyric play Lament for Sheku Bayoh premiered at Edinburgh International Festival in 2021. She was appointed Edinburgh Makar in November 2021 for a three-year term. She is also an associate artist with the National Theatre of Scotland and one of the winners of the Peggy Ramsay/Film4 Award 2022. In March of this year, her debut poetry collection Blood Salt Spring was published by Polygon. A selection of poems from her collection have been made into an audio-visual album with the filmmaker Beth Chalmers and musician Beldina Odenyo, in association with National Theatre of Scotland and Push the Boat Out Festival.  

Kavya prize 2022 shortlisted author Hannah Lavery with published book cover.

Sorrow, Tears and Blood by David Onamade (Arkbound Publishing)

Sorrow, Tears and Blood by David Onamade (Arkbound Publishing)

David Onamade (He/Him) (BA, MA, PhD) sadly passed away in 2021. He lived in Bristol for many years after spending time living in London and Glasgow. He worked in racial equality for more than 30 years, and was the youngest Chairman of Bristol Racial Equality Council. He was also Chairman of South West Racial Equality Council Network (comprising the then eleven RECs in the South West) and represented the South West at the national board of the British Federation for Racial Equality Councils. He was also Chairman of the Independent Advisory Board (IAG) of Avon & Somerset Constabulary – position he co-held with three different deputy chief constables; and Chairman of Ashley Ward Community Forum (a council ward in Bristol that includes St Pauls), as well as Member of Bristol Democracy Commission (the commission that consulted on the political arrangement for Bristol); Member of the Board of Visitors (BOV, now IMB) to HMP Bristol – a Home Office appointment; and an elected member of the South West Regional Assembly. As relevant, he was a trainer in Equality and Diversity at Work with the Equality Foundation Ltd and Racial Equality Caseworker for many years, before becoming Director then the Chief Executive Officer of Somerset Racial Equality Council, between 2003 and 2013. David has a good knowledge of UK race laws. He was homeless and living on the streets when this poetry was written. In late 2020, with the support of Arkbound Foundation, he was given accommodation by Emmaus Bristol.

Kavya prize 2022 shortlisted author David Onamade with published book cover.

Sikfan Glaschu by Sean Wai Keung (Verve Poetry Press)

Sikfan Glaschu by Sean Wai Keung (Verve Poetry Press)

Sean Wai Keung (He/Him) is a mixed-race writer and performance maker based in Glasgow. His work often uses food as a starting point for explorations of identity, migration and communities. His pamphlet ‘you are mistaken’ won the Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition 2016 and he has also released short-length work ‘how to cook’ (2017) and ‘be happy’ (2018) with Speculative Books. His first full length poetry collection, ‘sikfan glaschu’, was published by Verve Poetry Press in April 2021, and was described as “joyful, earnest and offering unexpected poignancies from everyday life” by The Scotsman. He has also been published in journals and anthologies including Street Cake zine, Datableed zine, Haunted Voices: Gothic Storytelling from Scotland (Haunt, 2019), and The Dizziness of Freedom (Bad Betty Press, 2018). He has facilitated workshops on food and recipe writing, as well as food-poetry, for The Poetry School, The Scottish BPOC Writers Network, Glasgow Zine Library and Renfrewshire Leisure’s Refugee Week Series. He has also contributed articles on community, food and identity to The Skinny, Bella Caledonia and the Vittles Newsletter.

Kavya prize 2022 shortlisted author Sean Wai Keung with published book cover.

This is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson (Luna Press)

This is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson (Luna Press)

Lorraine Wilson (She/Her) is a mixed-race Burmese third-culture writer. She lives by the sea in Scotland, writing speculative fiction set in the wilderness and heavily influenced by folklore. She is fascinated by the way both mythology and our relationship with the natural world act as mirrors of ourselves and lenses for how we view others, and with a heritage best described as a product of the British Empire , she is drawn to themes of family, trauma, and belonging. After gaining a PhD in behavioural ecology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland she spent several years as a conservation researcher in odd corners of the world before turning to writing. She has published short fiction and non-fiction in, amongst others, Strange Horizons, Forge Lit, The Mechanics’ Institute Review and Boudicca Press. Her debut novel, This Is Our Undoing was released in 2021, and is shortlisted for SCK Awards. A second novel, The Way The Light Bends is coming out in August 2022. Lorraine is represented by Robbie Guillory at Underline Literary Agency.

Kavya prize 2022 shortlisted author Lorraine Wilson with published book cover.

Meet the Judges

Leila Aboulela

Tawona Sithole

Professor Bashabi Fraser

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions

The winner of The Kavya Prize will receive £1000 and the option of a residency at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Writing Centre.

When considering the entries the judges will take into account quality of writing and originality of the work within its form or genre.



Publishers may submit full length novels, works of creative non-fiction and poetry collections first published in the United Kingdom between 1st January 2020 and 31st December 2021 for The Kavya Prize.

Authors must be Black or people of colour, and Scottish by birth, residence or formation. 

Books published as hardback, paperback originals, collections or pamphlets by a publisher are eligible. 

We open for entries on Monday 10th January 2022 and entries should be submitted by 5pm on 31st January 2022 (absolutely no later than 4th February 2022).

The submission of an author’s work by the publisher will be taken as agreement by the author that he/she is willing for the submitted work to be considered and that they consent to share that book (in all formats) with judges and organisers in consideration for the prize.

It is a condition of entry that publishers will put the award logo and “Winner of The Kavya Prize” or “Shortlisted for The Kavya Prize” on the cover of subsequent editions of winning/shortlisted books. 

Publishers will, on request, provide a cover image and author photograph with the necessary clearances for use on The Kavya Prize website or for publicity associated with the Prize.

Publishers will make every effort to ensure that any shortlisted authors for the Prize will attend the ceremony either virtually or in Glasgow in May 2022 and will be available for media interviews around this date.

The longlist for The Kavya Prize will comprise up to twelve books. The shortlist will be 4-6 titles. Publishers will be notified in March/April if their book has been shortlisted.

Paper copies of all longlisted or shortlisted books should be made available upon request.

The judges’ decision is final. Neither discussion nor correspondence concerning any decision can be entered into.

A DRM-free digital copy of each entry (PDF or eBook) must be submitted to the Prize Administrators.

Please submit your book to: with ‘Kavya Prize 2022 Submission_Book Title’ clearly stated in the subject line.


Hard copies should be submitted to:

Kavya Prize - Creative Writing

School of Critical Studies

5 Lilybank Gardens

University of Glasgow

G12 8QQ.