Ghalya Saadawi wins the 2023 Fitzcarraldo Editions/Mahler & LeWitt Essay Prize


Ghalya Saadawi has won the 2023 Fitzcarraldo Editions/Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize for her proposal Between October and November, an essay on time and loss under an extended, capitalist modernity, on what we keep and what is taken away. The essay has its beginnings in a letter to a friend, in which Saadawi explored political family histories, fashion and music’s retromania, postponement of writing, and the eruption of the past in the present. Written in fragments and digressions that thread cultural criticism, family memoir and life writing, the essay continues to think through the continued cultural obsession with the past and the future, foreclosed revolutionary legacies, the contradictions of destruction and tradition, mourning and the mediation of memory.

Ghalya Saadawi lectures at the centre for research architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, and at the Dutch Art Institute, and is affiliated with the Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications and monographs. Most recently she is at work on a manuscript on hypochondria, and scholarly and prose essays on psychoanalysis and the law, and the language of political-economy as a mode of relating. Between October and November is her first book.

The other shortlisted authors, chosen from 107 entries, are Luke Allan for There is another world, but it is this one, Toby Chai for Embryos Denied Mitosis, Pete Kowalczyk with Time is a Border, Matthew Porges for The Balkan Bridge by Matthew Porges, and Asa Serezin with The Divorce Plot.

The Fitzcarraldo Editions/Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize is an annual competition for unpublished writers. Initially made possible by an Arts Council Grant in 2015, the prize awards £3,000 to the best proposal for a book-length essay (minimum 25,000 words) by a writer resident in the UK & Ireland who has yet to secure a publishing deal. In addition to the £3,000 prize the winner will have the opportunity to spend up to two months in residency at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy, to work on their book. The book will then be published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

The 2023 Fitzcarraldo Editions/Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize was judged by Joanna Biggs, Brian Dillon, Joanna Kavenna, Max Porter and Jacques Testard. The judges were looking for essays that explore and expand the possibilities of the essay form, with no restrictions on theme or subject matter. The prize aims to find the best emerging essay writers and to give them a chance to develop and showcase their talent. It also provides the winner with their first experience of publishing a book, from the planning, research and writing of it through to the editing, production and publicity stages.