10 May 2017

The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize:
“Home Is Elsewhere”

The Reader Berlin, The Circus Hotel, and SAND present the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize, sponsored by epubli, The British CouncilElsewhere Journal, and Berlin stationer RSVP.

The Reader Berlin’s fourth annual writing competition is now open. And this year, they’re offering the biggest prize yet, a one-month residency at The Circus Hotel, Berlin!

Virginia Woolf said that “a room of one’s own’ was prerequisite to producing good writing. In 2017, The Circus Hotel is generously offering ”the winner of our writing competition their own luxury apartment in the heart of Berlin for a one-month residency in early 2018. There, the winning writer will have undisturbed time to observe, explore, and write in one of the world’s most inspiring cities.

Until the closing date of 31 July 2017, we invite submissions on the theme “Home is Elsewhere” from both published and unpublished writers resident anywhere in the world. Our aim is to promote fresh, original writing and provide a platform for emerging writing talent. This year’s judges include award-winning author Irenosen Okojie, author and creative director Michael Salu, SAND editor Florian Duijsens, writer and publisher Paul Scraton, and The Circus Hotel’s own Katrin Schönig.


Theme: Home is Elsewhere

Genre: Prose (fiction and non-fiction)

Length: Max. 3000 words, excluding title

Entry Fee: 9 euros, via Paypal, submission via email to competition@thereaderberlin.com (see Submission Guidelines below)

Opens: 15 April 2017

Closes: Midnight 31 July 2017

Results will be announced on 1 October 2017

Prize-Giving Event: 17 February

Residency Dates: 22 January to 18 February 2018


Winner: A one-month (four-week) residency at Berlin’s The Circus Hotel to take place from January 22 to February 18, 2018. The competition winner will receive their very own apartment, plus a month’s worth of breakfast vouchers for the Circus Hostel and up to 100 euros in travel costs to help cover their travel to Berlin. The winning entry will be published in SAND Journal (subject to the magazine’s regular editing and copy-editing) and in a Reader Berlin anthology.

Along with this, The British Council has generously offered  the winner a free place as a delegate at the British Council Literature Seminar 2018 in Berlin, due to take place over three days during the residency. The seminar, in its 33rd year, offers students, academics, publishers, translators, journalists and literature fans the chance to hear the latest writing from the UK and engage with the writers and their work at first hand. Over the years, the list of writers taking part has included Ian McEwan, A S Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Jeanette Winterson and David Nicholls… as well as Berlin Writing Prize judge Irenosen Okojie. In 2017, the live stream of the seminar was watched in 72 countries.

Runners Up: Two runners up will receive two nights in a double room of their own at The Circus Hotel over February’s competition prize-giving event on February 17th, and a travel budget to a maximum of 100 euros each to cover their journey to Berlin. Their winning entries will be published in a Reader Berlin anthology.

Shortlist: A further seven shortlisted writers will win Reader Berlin goodie bags, plus invitations to our prize-giving event in February 2018. Their winning entries will be published on The Reader Berlin’s website and in the anthology.


All submissions will be read by The Reader’s team, which will compile a longlist to be read by our panel of judges.

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and Arts Project Manager and author of Speak Gigantular and Butterfly Fish, which won a Betty Trask award. Her work has been featured in The Observer, The Guardian, the BBC, and the Huffington Post. Hailed by Ben Okri as a dynamic writing talent to watch and featured in the Evening Standard Magazine, she is one of London’s most exciting new authors. Find her at www.irenosenokojie.com and @IrenosenOkojie.

Katrin Schönig is the general manager of the Circus Hotel in Berlin. A longtime lover of literature, Katrin has a Master’s degree in English and German Literature and is the events coordinator for Elsewhere: A Journal of Place. Her favourite writers include Erich Kästner, Klaus Mann, Jane Austen, Brigitte Reimann, and Carson McCullers.

Florian Duijsens is the fiction editor at SAND Journal and co-host of the bimonthly Dead Ladies Show at ACUD. He works as a writer, editor, and translator (most recently of Hanna Bervoets’ Everything There Was), and teaches in the “Language & Thinking” program at Bard College Berlin. Twitter: @neonres

Paul Scraton is a writer and editor based in Berlin. Born in Lancashire, he moved to the German capital in 2001 where he has lived ever since. He is the editor-in-chief of Elsewhere: A Journal of Place and the author of Ghosts on the Shore: Travels along the German Baltic Coast (Influx Press, 2017). Website: www.underagreysky.com. Twitter: @underagreysky.

Michael Salu is a writer, award-winning creative director, critic, and artist. His fiction, non-fiction, and art have appeared in a range of publications including Tales of Two Cities, Freeman’s Journal, and Catapult.co. Salu runs a multi-disciplinary creative consultancy, SALU.io, and is currently finishing a collection of stories and working on two film projects. He is the former creative director of Granta Publications.

Submission Guidelines

  1. Pay the entry fee of 9 euros via Paypal to hello@thereaderberlin.com and receive your Paypal reference number.
  2. Register for submission via this Google Form.
  3. Submissions are to then be sent via email attachment to competition@thereaderberlin.com.  The subject line of your email must contain the Paypal transaction ID number of your entry-fee payment along with the title of your piece. The attachment must be a Word document or PDF.  Please ensure the title of the Word document or PDF is the official title of your submission (NOT “final draft 4.3” or “edited version”).  Your entry should be anonymous, with page numbers, and double spaced in 12-point text.


  1. Closing date for receipt of entries is July 31, 2017 at midnight Berlin time.
  2. Entrants must be 18 years old or over on the closing date, July 31, 2017.
  3. The maximum length of submissions is 3,000 words (does not include title), there is no minimum length.
  4. The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize is open to all published and unpublished writers. There is no geographical restriction on entry, but all entries must be in English.
  5. Authors may enter as many times as they like. There is an entry fee of 9 euros for each entry submitted.  Entries must be submitted via separate emails. Payment of the entry fee must be made via Paypal to hello@thereaderberlin.com. The Paypal transaction ID for each payment must be entered into the subject line of the submission email.
  6. Entries must be the work of a sole author, no co-authored texts will be accepted.
  7. Entries will not be returned. Please keep a copy. No corrections or alterations can be made to your submission after receipt of the entry, though the winning, runner-up, and longlisted entries will be subject to editing before publication in SAND Journal and the The Reader Berlin anthology.
  8. Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been previously published, either in print or online (this includes self-published work, ebooks, magazines, journals, websites, blogs, social-networking sites), or broadcast or won a prize in another writing competition on or before 31 July 2017. Any entry found to have been plagiarised will be disqualified. Simultaneous submissions are welcome – but please let us know as soon as possible if your submission is to be published elsewhere, in print or online.
  9. Entries will be read and judged anonymously; the entrant’s name and contact details should only appear in the entry email and not anywhere on their manuscripts. The manuscripts must be free of all personal information about the author. This includes things like age and address.
  10. Email entries will be acknowledged by email. If an entrant does not receive an email acknowledgement for an online entry they are very welcome to contact hello@thereaderberlin.com to confirm their entry has been received. Contact via email in the first instance is preferable.
  11. No entrant to the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize may win more than one prize. The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence will be entered into. Judges or readers will not comment on individual entires or give feedback on individual entries.
  12. All entrants must agree to have their work published in a Reader Berlin anthology of the ten shortlisted entries in both print and ebook formats, should they be shortlisted, and in the case of the winner, by SAND Journal. Authors will retain worldwide copyright on their work (including film and dramatic rights) but The Reader Berlin has first publication rights to publish the 10 shortlisted pieces. Each of the shortlisted pieces must never have been previously published, in print or online (including self-published, ebook, magazines, journals, websites, blogs, social-networking sites), or broadcast or won a prize in another writing competition on or before 31 July 2017.
  13. The overall winner must be able to undertake the residency at the Circus Hotel during the specified dates. Dates are not transferrable and no cash alternative is offered. During their residency they will be required to read from their winning piece at the February event and to attend a further evening event to be agreed upon nearer the time with The Circus Hotel. In the event the winner cannot undertake the residency, the title of winner and the respective prizes will pass to the first runner up, and so on.
  14. Prizes will be awarded at the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize Event in February 2018. Results of the competition will be posted on The Reader Berlin website on the aforementioned dates.
  15. Any entrant wishing to withdraw their entry from the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize may do so at any time. Entry fees cannot be refunded.

Entry implies an acceptance of all The Reader Berlin 2017 Berlin Writing Prize rules. Entries that fail to comply with the entry rules and requirements may be disqualified.