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Bestselling Author Neil GaimanBestselling author Neil Gaiman
Among judges of Dundee International Book Prize 2014
Photo Credit: BBC News


At last, a window has opened for my yet-to-be-published first novel, Under the Tamarind Tree. After receiving rejection letters from literary agents – of the kind that said, “While your project sounds interesting, I don’t think it is right for my list at this time” – a friend suggested that I should also consider participating in book contests.

In February 2014, I learned about the Dundee International Book Prize through Caribbean journalist and author, Tony Williams. Tony offers informative information for writers through his Caribbean Book Blog. I set to work.

  • What is the Dundee International Book Prize? Check.
  • Who qualifies for entry? Check.
  • How do I submit my novel? Check.
  • When is the deadline for submission? Check.

Entries had to be in English. Not wanting to deter the judges with my American English, I spent over two weeks editing my manuscript to reflect the British way of spelling and expressing measurements and temperatures. Five days before the deadline for submission on 3 March 2014, I e-mailed my manuscript together with an entry form, and 500-word synopsis, as required. As Tony Williams had told me, I had nothing to lose. In my calendar, I noted: “Follow-up Dundee contest results in October 2014.”

On May 20, an unexpected e-mail arrived from the Dundee Prize Director: I was provisionally shortlisted among the top ten entries. I punched the air. My writer’s self-doubt evaporated. The official shortlist was announced on June 11. Yay! Thank you Prize Team Dundee.

My congratulations go out to the other nine nominees: Veronica Birch, Jasper Dorgan, Lora Hughes, Amy Mason, and Suzy Norman from England; Sheena Lambert from Ireland; Rachel J. Fenton from New Zealand; and Ben East and Robin Martin from the United States.

Now, we wait.