The 2017 Berlin Writing Prize

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.

In 2017, The Reader Berlin is holding its fourth annual writing competition. 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Until the closing date of 31 July 2017, we invited submissions on the theme “Home is Elsewhere” from both published and unpublished writers resident anywhere in the world.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

Closed: 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 were read by The Reader’s team, which compiled 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 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: 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 Salu runs a multi-disciplinary creative consultancy,, and is currently finishing a collection of stories and working on two film projects. He is the former creative director of Granta Publications.

Submissions to this contest are now closed.