The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize

Joanne Harris (left) and Lemn Sissay (right) with 2022 Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize runner-up Jamie O'Connell at Southwark Cathedral (photograph © Adrian Pope)
Joanne Harris (left) and Lemn Sissay (right) with 2022 Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize runner-up Jamie O'Connell at Southwark Cathedral (photograph © Adrian Pope)
For a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home

In memory of Malcolm Lowry and endowed by Gordon Bowker, his biographer, and Ramdei Bowker.

A prize awarded to a UK or Irish writer, or a writer currently resident in those countries, for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home.

Inspired by Malcolm Lowry’s novel, Under the Volcano and in celebration of its author, the prize aims to inspire literary excellence and encourage writers to travel and to write from the resulting experience.

The winner will receive £2,000 and the runner-up £750.

The 2023 Prize is now closed for submissions. The shortlist will be announced in Spring 2023.

  • Deadline for entries: 31 October 2022
  • The novel must be a full length work in the English language by one living author (not a translation, and not a work for children).
  • The novel must have been first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2022.
  • The author must be British or Irish, or be currently resident in the UK or Ireland at the time of submission to the prize.
  • We cannot accept books that are only available in e-format or that are self-published or where the author has contributed or paid for the costs of publishing.
  • Submissions must be made by the print publisher and are limited to two submissions per imprint. Publishers are invited to submit a maximum of one additional call-in title. 

For any queries relating to the prize please contact [email protected]

The 2022 Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize winner

Winner: Sheila Llewellyn for Winter in Tabriz (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton)

Runner-up: Jamie O’Connell for Diving For Pearls (Doubleday/Transworld/Penguin Random House)


  • Olivia Sudjic for Asylum Road (Bloomsbury)
  • Catherine Menon for Fragile Monsters (Penguin Books)
  • Tessa McWatt for The Snow Line (Scribe UK)

With thanks, the judges of the 2023 Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize:

Aamer Hussein

© Samuel Shimon

Aamer Hussein was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1955, and moved to London in his teens. He has been writing fiction since the mid-‘eighties, and his work has been widely anthologised in many languages including Spanish, Arabic, Japanese and Urdu. He is the author of the short story collections, Mirror to the Sun (1993); This Other Salt (1999); Turquoise (2002); Cactus Town and other stories (2002); Insomnia (2007); Another Gulmohar Tree (2009), a novella, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book); and The Cloud Messenger (2011). He is also the editor of Kahani: Short Stories by Pakistani Women (2005), a revised and extended edition of Hoops of Fire.

Zeba Talkhani

Zeba Talkhani was born in Sirsi, South India and grew up in Saudi Arabia’s expatriate community before moving to India, Germany, and ultimately the UK, where she works in publishing. Her memoir My Past is a Foreign Country charts this journey and explores themes such as patriarchy, mother-daughter relationships and self-compassion. It’s received praise in The Times, British Vogue, Stylist Magazine, The Scotsman and even by Hillary Clinton. She recently published The Most Exciting Eid, her first children’s book.

Kerry Young

© Françoise Paton

Kerry Young is the author of three novels published by Bloomsbury – ‘Pao’, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Show Me A Mountain’, which have been variously shortlisted/nominated for the Costa First Novel Award, Commonwealth Book Prize, OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, East Midlands Book Award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She is a Project Consultant at the Royal Literary Fund, an Arvon tutor and an Advisory Board member at The Literary Consultancy.

Prize logo illustration © Annabelle Carvell