A new British Council-funded project, Write Beyond Borders, is set to kickstart its inaugural episode from May-October 2021. The program is designed for "emerging writers" of South Asian background, who can be based anywhere in the UK, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. The deadline for application, which should include a covering letter and a writing sample of no more than 2,000 words, is April 30, 2021.
The successful applicant will get to experience two one-to-one lessons with their author mentors and 13 masterclasses on writing, conducted virtually. They can also workshop a writing piece of up to 2,500 words with their mentors. Ten writers will be selected for the programme. Applicants must be at least 18 and unpublished writers—with no record of having published a full length book—with no agents. Self-published authors, however, are encouraged to apply.
The mentor authors include Bangladeshi authors Farah Ghuznavi, author of Fragments of Riversong (Daily Star Books, 2013), and Saad Z Hussain, author of Djinn City (Bengal Lights Books, 2018) and The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday (Bengal Lights Books, 2019), as well as Mumbai-based journalist Jane Borges, Catherine Menon, author of Fragile Monsters (Viking 2021), and Sabyn Javeri, author of Hijabistan (Harper Collins 2019), among others.
"The masterclasses and sessions will cover everything from writing inspiration to practicing craft to research to publication", Farah Ghuznavi told The Daily Star. "I am not part of the selection process but I can definitely say that the successful applicant will need to have an originality of voice that can absorb the reader completely", she added.
When asked about advice for aspiring writers, Ghuznavi, who has previously written for The Daily Star about the critical aspects of the writing process, shared, "Rejection is always going to be a part of the process, but one must try their best no matter what. There is no alternative to that and reading a lot from their genre of focus."
Another promising programme for emerging South Asian writers with finished, half-finished, or yet-to-start manuscripts is South Asia Speaks, mentored by the likes of Fatima Bhutto, The Good Girls author Sonia Faleiro, and Leila author Prayaag Akbar.