MENA Passport Holders: Apply to Win FT’s Strange New $40K ‘Emerging Voices’ Prize

The Financial Times and Oppenheimer Funds are launching a new, $40K “FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award” for artists who have a passport from a country with a GNI per capita of less than $12,746:

Also unclear why the logo is an open, empty egg.
Also unclear why the logo is an open, empty egg.

There are three categories:

1. Africa and the Middle East: Works of fiction published in English.

2. Asia-Pacific: Films in any language with English subtitles.

3. Latin America and the Caribbean: including, but not limited to, paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, photographs, prints and mixed media.

As you’d expect from the $12,746 cutoff, authors from Qatar, the Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait are not eligible for the award. But also, oddly, Sudan?  (South Sudanese writers, however, are in.)

To be eligible, the manuscript needs to be more than 20,000 words of “fiction literature.” It also must have been published in English.

Further, “The works can be published in print or digital form, or both, between 1 January 2014 and 30 September 2015. Self-published works will not be accepted for entry.” Publishers may submit as many books as they like, but said books may not be “offensive, defamatory or otherwise unlawful.”

There seems to be no requirement that the author actually be emerging — the titular “emerging” refers instead to “emerging market nations” — so if John Maxwell Coetzee’s still got his South African passport hanging around somewhere, he’s in.

According to the prize website, the panel of judges — which seems to include the Director of Emerging Markets Equities for OppenheimerFunds — “aim to reward those in each of the eligible art forms whose work shows outstanding talent and in some way furthers understanding of their region.”

Moreover, the website says:

There is a remarkable structural shift in the world, propelled by economic progress in the developing markets and the advanced reach of the Internet. More connectivity and greater variety of voices in the business, science and arts communities are leading to a new renaissance. The Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds are delighted to provide a platform to recognise the people contributing to these markets.

It all sounds pretty dreadful, but it is $40,000. Plus, “There is no purchase necessary to win.”

For those who’d like to apply, go ahead and have your publisher upload your English-language manuscript online. The closing date for submissions is April 30. The longlist for each category will be announced on the 5th of June, which will be followed by the announcement of three finalists on August 7. All of these writers “will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in New York on 5 October 2015 where category winners will be announced.”