Dubai, 3 March 2019: The winners of the Montegrappa Writing Prize, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s prestigious competition to discover unpublished novelists, have been announced today. Recognised as one of the most successful writing competitions in the region, the competition has a proven track record in finding new writing talent, producing eight published authors in the last five years.
This year’s first place went to Polly Phillips, a former journalist in the UK who is now a corporate communications consultant in Dubai. The novel, Keep Your Friends Close, is a domestic noir which looks at the nature of competition between women, focusing on a friendship that is inherently destructive, with a secret burning away at its core.
The runners up are Aine O’Connor, Lynsey Eames, Mark Fiddes and Robert Pateman.
All entries were judged by international literary agent Luigi Bonomi, founder of Luigi Bonomi Associates (LBA) and literary agent for several previous Festival authors, including Annabel Kantaria and Karen Osman. They were both discovered as a result of entering the competition and joined Bonomi on the stage to discuss their paths to writing success.
“This competition provides aspiring writers with a real chance of getting their work noticed,” said Bonomi. “The fact that so many finalists have won publishing deals in the past shows how high the standard of writing in the region is. Every year I am astonished by the level of skill and imagination that we discover and I hope that this year’s crop of talent will go on to join our list of published authors.”
Novelists that have never been published are eligible to enter, providing that they are 21 years or older and resident in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman or Saudi Arabia. Entrants had to submit a 400-word synopsis of the book in English and the first 2,000 words of their almost completed manuscript.
The grand prize for the winner of this year’s competition is a bespoke Montegrappa writing instrument with an image chosen by the winner hand engraved onto the barrel of the pen, with a retail value of $6,000 USD. Although a publishing deal is not guaranteed, the winner of the Prize also wins the chance to discuss their manuscript with Luigi Bonomi, as well as a two-night stay at a five-star hotel in Dubai, and a copy of the current Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.
The runners-up receive exclusive Montegrappa fountain pens with a retail value of $1000 each, and copies of the current Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.
Montegrappa is Italy’s oldest manufacturer of hand-crafted writing instruments. Charles Nahhas, Montegrappa’s Middle East distributor said: “We are proud to have played our part in helping so many new writers on the path to becoming recognised and published. This year’s winners have been given a great opportunity and shown that writing success is possible. I hope it will spur others on to enter the competition next year with an aim to be one of the winners joining us on the stage.”
“The Montegrappa Prize is certainly one of the Festival’s success stories and we are very proud to have been able to make such a difference to creative writing in the region”, said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director “One of the goals of the Festival has been to provide a focus and encouragement for the multinational writing community in the region. With the support of Montegrappa’s sponsorship of this competition, we continue to discover the next generation of writers.”
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is held in partnership with Emirates Airline and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate’s dedicated authority for heritage, arts, and culture. The Festival begins Dubai Culture’s flagship art initiative Dubai Art Season (DAS), which features a two-month citywide activation of art events.
It is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.