The Saga Prize was a literary award for new Black British novelists, which ran from 1995 to 1998.


The actress and writer Marsha Hunt established the Saga Prize in 1995 to recognise the literature emerging from indigenous black Britons' experiences.[1] The prize – of £3,000 and a book contract – was for unpublished first novels. To be eligible, entrants needed a black African ancestor and to have been born in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland. The prize was sponsored by the travel firm Saga plc.[2] Judges included Andrea Levy and Margaret Busby.[3]

The "afrocentric" nature of the Saga Prize and its restrictive definition of blackness caused controversy.[2] The Commission for Racial Equality objected to its creation,[4] and the Society of Authors refused to support it.[5][6] The prize was successful, nevertheless, and ran for four years until 1998, winners including Diran Adebayo and Joanna Traynor.[7]



  1. ^ Marsha Hunt (8 August 1995). "Saga that led to a miracle". The Herald.
  2. ^ a b Mark Stein (2002). "Saga Prize". In Alison Donnell (ed.). Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture. Routledge. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-134-70025-7.
  3. ^ Margaret Busby, "Andrea Levy remembered", Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  4. ^ Deirdre Osborne (2009). "Introduction: Longevity and Critical Legitimacy: The 'So-called' Literary Tradition Versus the 'Actual' Cultural Network". Women: A Cultural Review. 20 (3: Contemporary Black British Women's Writing): 239.
  5. ^ Tracy J. Prince (2012). Culture Wars in British Literature: Multiculturalism and National Identity. McFarland. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-7864-6294-0.
  6. ^ Mark Stein, Black British Literature: Novels of Transformation, Ohio State University Press, 2004, p. 15.
  7. ^ Cole Moreton (4 January 1998). "Books: Some kind of success | As the Saga Prize folds, Cole Moreton asks: has it really got easier for black writers?". The Independent.