Presented by the National Centre for Writing & British Council

50 remarkable writers
Podcasts & videos
New essays & provocations
Expert industry discussions

The International Literature Showcase has highlighted great UK-based writers and facilitated collaboration and exchange for over eight years.

This selection of 50 writers working in the UK was curated by Kei Miller, Elif Shafak, Val McDermid, Jackie Kay and Owen Sheers.

The ILS is dedicated to sharing knowledge and exploring new ways of working. We invited literature practitioners from around the world to examine the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid world. You can find their insights below.

The videos, podcasts and commissions are made possible by support from Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.

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"They are the writers of an emerging world"

click to explore Kei Miller's writers

“These are not just new and promising talents. More importantly, they are the writers of an emerging world – or, at least, the best that we might imagine that world to be.”

"Bold. Compelling. Vital."

click to explore Elif Shafak's writers

Elif Shafak portrait credit_Fethi_Karaduman (20)“At a time when the world is changing with a bewildering speed, and we are constantly bombarded with information and misinformation, stop what you are doing, find a quiet corner and read these amazing writers.”

"Open up the world"

click to explore Jackie Kay's writers

Jackie Kay“These ten writers open up the world to you and give you the world back. There’s a worldly-wise wisdom in their work, as well as an abundance of humour. They are bold. They often tackle difficult and dangerous themes with an extraordinary grace and lightness of touch.”

"Fresh delight in the wonder of words."

click to explore Val McDermid's writers

“Words do change the world, reader by reader. They open our eyes, they provoke thought, they make us uncomfortable in our entrenched positions. The work of these ten writers will do all of those things.”

"Imagine other ways to be"

click to explore Owen Sheers' writers

Owen Sheers

“From travelogues to poems to memoir to YA and adult fiction, these ten writers create stories and poems which offer us glimpses of how we might reposition ourselves in relation to each other and the natural world; they invite us to imagine other ways to be.”

Meet the curators

We commissioned experts from across the sector to speak with our showcase curators about their inspirations, motivations and the rationale behind their selections.

In podcast and video form, these present a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into how the 2021 International Literature Showcase came to be.

Recommended books from some of the best writers working in the UK today

If you’re looking for new reads in particular, check out our bitesize guide of 50 books to add to your ‘to be read’ pile — selected by Elif, Val, Jackie, Owen and Kei. Download here >>

Joy Francis on recovery & reimagining

Tuesday 22 June at 5pm BST

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the UK’s cautious steps out of lockdown, do we want to go back to ‘business as usual’?

We are delighted to welcome Joy Francis, Executive Director of Words of Colour, for a keynote lecture. Drawing on her extensive background as a former journalist and creative entrepreneur within the literature sector, she will use examples of best practice and innovation to present post-COVID recovery as an opportunity to reimagine and reset our approaches.

Innovation & Enterprise in the Literature Sector

Wednesday 23 June at 5pm BST

What might innovation and entrepreneurship look like in literature?

Join us for a discussion of the current practices, opportunities and challenges for innovation and entrepreneurship across the literature sector. Our panellists have experience across commercial, non-profit, and freelance capacities, and will speak about their experiences of founding and the support they needed and/or received for innovative publishing, writer development and festival programmes.

Kei Miller presents…

Thursday 24 June at 5pm BST

Exceptional times call for exceptional writers. Award-winning poet, essayist and fiction writer Kei Miller introduces his selection of ten unmissable emerging writers working in the UK today. Discover the writers you should be reading and find out why Kei believes they are influencing and shaping the UK’s literature scene.

Kei will be joined in conversation with three of his chosen writers as he explores what makes their work so vital.

The View From Here

We commissioned ten literature practitioners from around the world to share their insights and experiences, reflecting on recent challenges and exploring the opportunities available to the sector in the years ahead.

Lyndsey Fineran on digital distinctiveness

Lyndsey Fineran, Literature Festival Programme and Commissions Manager at Cheltenham Festivals, opens our series of commissioned think pieces and explores the crucial question of digital programming: how to retain the distinct identity and local connections that make your festival unique?

Pooja Nansi on seeing each other as never before

Pooja Nansi, Festival Director, reflects on recent changes to the Singapore Writers Festival and asks, if the view from here has changed forever, what new literature experiences might we create?

Festival Futures

Paul Bradley-Cong on keeping a sense of experiment

Paul Bradley-Cong, Director of Out On The Page, explores how to retain a sense of experimentation even during difficult times, and how staying true to the radical queer energy of their membership opened up new international opportunities.

Luka Grigolia on new ventures during lockdown

When lockdown hit, Luka Grigolia left the city with a stock of books to get through. But despite the difficulties of lockdown, it has been a busy time of launching new ventures, including Tbilisi World Book Capital, as well as the crucial work of connecting with readers.

Enterprise & Experiments

Dike Chukwumerije on inclusive communities in person and on mobile

Dike Chukwumerije of the Abuja Literary Society looks at how, both in person and on mobile, creating a space where writers, readers and audiences can express themselves freely is crucial to building an inclusive literary community.

Mikael Johani on wandering into new spaces

Mikael Johani, poet and co-organiser of Jakarta’s Paviliun Puisi, looks at how Zoom events have created new opportunities for self-expression and connection beyond PavPu’s usual venue, beyond Jakarta, and even with international partners.

Connecting Communities

Mehr Husain on sustainable publishing in context

‘Do the economies of scale justify the energy, electricity, carbon footprint, paper waste, plastic packaging in the mass production of books?’ asks Mehr Husain, founder of Zuka Books, as she explores how sustainable publishing tailored to its local context could hold the answers to the future of publishing in Pakistan.

Alana-Marie Gopaul on crowdsourcing and the canon

‘A list, a curriculum, a bookshelf, a publishing trend – they are attempts to anchor us, but the real joy is floating just outside of that’ writes Alana-Marie Gopaul of Bocas Lit Fest, as she reflects on crowdsourcing a list of 100 Caribbean Books That Made Us.

Reaching Readers

Sharmilla Beezmohun on the power of partnerships

Is a partnership really just a contractual relationship? Sharmilla Beezmohun, co-founder and Director of Speaking Volumes, explores how building trust through partnership working can open new opportunities for innovation and inclusion.

Diana Santiago on a new era for literature work

Diana Santiago of Kujiezela Wall reflects on the recent challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and imagines the future of literature work: a future in which funders, beneficiaries, artists and literature workers collaborate more closely than ever.

Shared Futures

Our thanks to all the writers, journalists and literature professionals who have contributed to the International Literature Showcase.


The International Literature Showcase is a partnership project by:


National Centre for Writing


Made possible by: