Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Almost Island Manuscript Contest

Everyone who reads this blog knows what a fantastic journal Almost Island is. Not only do they have great work online, they have also produced three of the most wonderful works in book form that I have seen in the last five years - Adil Jussawalla's Trying to Say Goodbye, Rahul Soni's translations of Shrikant Verma's Magadh and Sharmishtha Mohanty's little-reviewed, but beautiful Five Movements in Praise.

I've just got this mail from Almost Island, announcing their first ever Manuscript Contest, and I thought I'd put the entire contents of the mail, guidelines and all, up here for the benefit of my readers.

If you have something that is experimental, cross-genre, that you especially feel you can't place with regular publishers, this is your chance. 

Here goes:

Almost Island invites submissions to its first manuscript competition. Books of poetry, experimental prose and cross-genre works, in English or in English translation, by citizens or residents of South Asian countries are eligible. (A book is defined here for convenience as a minimum of 55 A4 pages.) 

The winner of the competition will be published by Almost Island Books, an Indian imprint with international distribution. The second and third placed manuscripts will be considered for publication in the journal. Preference will be given to works that are distinctive, assured and path-breaking. 

Till date Almost Island has published three books: the poet Adil Jussawalla's third collection, Trying To Say Goodbye, his first after a gap of thirty-five years; Five Movements in Praise, a work of fiction by Sharmistha Mohanty, and a translation of Shrikant Verma's Magadh by Rahul Soni. Read more about the books here:

Almost Island is an attempt to fill a particular lacuna: to champion great work, with relevance for Indian and international contexts, that may have been sidelined because it is too experimental, quirky, "difficult", strange or "serious". Obviously, to say this is not to impose any narrow aesthetic or tone -- we will look closely at anything that is original and distinctive.

Final judges for this year will be Adil Jussawalla and Eliot Weinberger, in conjunction with Almost Island editors Sharmistha Mohanty, Vivek Narayanan and Rahul Soni.

About the Judges

Adil Jussawalla has four collections of poems: Land's End, Missing Person, and the more recent Trying to Say Goodbye, and The Right Kind of Dog. A collection of prose, Maps for a Mortal Moon, selected and introduced by Jerry Pinto, appeared in 2014. Jussawalla has also edited, New Writing in India (1974), a snapshot of Indian writing in the sixties, across languages, which is still widely and closely read today. He was one of the founder members of the influential poets' publishing co-operative Clearing House, which brought out eight books of poems between 1976 and 1984. His poems have been translated into several Indian and European languages. He lives in Mumbai.

Eliot Weinberger's books of essays include Karmic Traces, An Elemental Thing, and Oranges & Peanuts for Sale. His political writings are collected in What I Heard About Iraq -- called by the Guardian the one antiwar "classic" of the Iraq war -- and What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles. The author of a study of Chinese poetry translation, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, he is the translator of the poetry of Bei Dao, the editor of The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry, and the general editor of a new series, Calligrams: Writings from and on China, jointly published by Chinese University of Hong Kong Press and New York Review Books. Other anthologies he has edited include World Beat: International Poetry Now from New Directions and American Poetry Since 1950: Innovators & Outsiders. Among his many translations of Latin American poetry and prose are The Poems of Octavio Paz, Paz's In Light of India, Vicente Huidobro's Altazor, and Jorge Luis Borges' Seven Nights and Selected Non-Fictions. His work has been translated into over thirty languages, and appears often in the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. He was born in New York City, where he still lives, and has been a frequent visitor to India since the late 1970s.


The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2015.

The winner (and shortlist) will be announced on July 1, 2015.


Open to citizens and long-term (at least five years) residents of South Asian countries (i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan).


1. Entries must be original work in English. Translations are also acceptable if they have not appeared in English before.

2. Manuscripts must be substantially unpublished. If individual poems or portions of the manuscript have been published before, or are forthcoming in journals, the first page of the manuscript must contain a detailed and accurate listing of which pages have already been published before, or are forthcoming, and where.

3. Only one entry per person is permitted.

4. No simultaneous submissions, please. We plan to make all decisions public by July 1, 2015

5. Winners of the competition must be open to a possible editorial process with the editors of Almost Island before they are published. Almost Island reserves the right to not publish the winning entry until it is deemed ready.

6. There is no contest fee.

How to Apply

Submit the full manuscript of poetry or prose by email to

Please take note that our submissions window will open on December 15, 2014 and close on March 1, 2015.

Make sure to follow these instructions:

(i) The subject line of the email should be as follows:

[SUBMISSION] Your Name - Manuscript Title

(ii) The body of the email should contain: the title, number of pages, author's or translator's name, physical address, email address and phone number.

(iii) Attachment 1: Each submission should be accompanied by a self-signed and scanned attestation that the author or translator is a citizen, or a resident of a South Asian country for five years or more (please specify which, how many years, etc). Shortlisted writers will later be asked for concrete proof of eligibility.

(iv) Attachment 2: The manuscript should be one single document in PDF format.

(v) The main body of the manuscript should not contain the author's name or any identifying marks, etc.

(vi) Poetry entries must be single-spaced in a standard 12-point font unless otherwise necessary.

(vii) Prose entries must be double-spaced in a standard 12-point font unless otherwise necessary.

Submissions that do not follow these instructions will be rejected.


Almost Island reserves the right to disqualify or reject any entry that we determine, in our sole and absolute discretion, does not meet all the above criteria. 

Almost Island reserves the right to declare no winner for the contest if the judges find no entry strong enough for publication.

The judges' decisions are final and binding.

Further queries and questions can be sent to

1 comment:

david jairaj said...

this is surely something to live for the next two months :)