Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers' Programme

2023-2024 Programme Mentors Announced

A female-led retelling of Ivanhoe, poems on the queer Scottish experience and an investigation of Henry Kissinger’s wartime experiences are among the projects selected for the third annual Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers Programme.

Covering fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the 10 selected writers will receive bursaries, mentoring from established writers, seminars and peer support over the next 10 months, culminating in a special event at Kings Place, London, for Jewish Book Week 2024.

The emerging writers in the fiction category are: Bradford-based Mariyam Karolia with short stories and poems on childlessness; Susan Royston with The House in Mile End, a novel inspired by a box of 1920s love letters; Sean Gilbert with I’ll Be The Monster, a crime story that interrogates the reader’s attraction to that genre; and Harriet Matthews with Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe from the viewpoint of Rebecca, also serving as an examination of Anglo-Jewish history. Their mentors will be million-selling novelist Julie Cohen, Ondaatje Prize winner Ruth Gilligan, thriller writer Adam Lebor and Booker nominee Sophie Mackintosh.

The non-fiction mentees are: Eleanor Thom, who will reflect on the concept of interdependence from her point of view as a mother and carer; Angus Reilly on Kissinger as a refugee, soldier, concentration camp liberator and intelligence officer in the Second World War; and Sharon Kanolik on multicultural identities and growing up Jewish in rural Dorset. Their mentors will be comedian and bestseller Viv Groskop, biographer and journalist Keiron Pim and historian Helen Fry.

In the poetry strand the selected writers are: Glasgow-based Beth Frieden, who writes in English and Gaelic; Evie Ward with a work of poetry and auto-fiction about what it means to write now; and Michael Mullen, delving into his experience of growing up queer, working class and Scottish. Their mentors will be writer and International Booker-shortlisted translator Jen Calleja, Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship winner Michael Pedersen and novelist and poet Sarah Blake.

Cohen, author of Bad Men and Spirited, said: “At a time when funding and support for the arts is shrinking, programmes like this are even more valuable to help the next generation of writers. I love helping new writers and I always feel that I learn a lot myself.”

Fellow mentor Blake, whose poetry and novels include In Springtime and Naamah, added: “Since I read Evie Ward’s work, I haven’t been able to get one of her lines out of my head: ‘I sat with the mould over my head, it was mine. I inherited it.’ I’m so excited to hear what her goals are and help her to reach them in any way I can.”

John Studzinski, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Jewish Book Week’s Emerging Writers Programme. Now in its third year, this Genesis programme is going from strength to strength. The quality and diversity of writers and mentors, of themes tackled and genres explored is impressive and many talented writers have already come through the programme. It also thrives on developing strong mentor-mentee relationships, which is at the centre of the Genesis Foundation’s work. We look forward to seeing this new cohort develop, with the support and commitment of their superb mentors and the excellent team at Jewish Book Week.”

Emerging writers from the two previous years of the programme have recently achieved a range of milestones. Linda Ford‘s debut collection Lucent was published in the autumn and Arts Council England (ACE) is funding research and development for a new poetry sequence. Philip Glassborow’s musical One Kid, Two Farthings, based on Wolf Mankowitz’s A Kid For Two Farthings, is to be performed in conjunction with the Museum of London’s next major exhibition Fashion CityHelen Bain was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2023. Fiona Monahan has completed her book, including a foreword by her mentor, biographer Caroline Moorehead. Madeleine Dunnigan is now represented by Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander and a draft of her book was a finalist for the Mslexia First Novel Award 2023. Oakley Flanagan’s G&T was published by Out-Spoken Press this summer. Aaaron Taylor won a 2023 Churchill Fellowship for his research and is now represented by Natasha Fairweather at RCW. And Cambridge University Press is publishing E.K. Myerson’s The Desire for “Syria” in Medieval England.


The 2023-2024 Emerging Writers Cohort

Beth Frieden

Based in Glasgow, Beth Frieden writes poetry in English and Gaelic. For the Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers Programme she is working on her first collection and being mentored by Jen Calleja.

Sean Gilbert

Sean Gilbert is working on his novel I’ll Be The Monster, about a homicidal couple on a luxury holiday in Israel, with Sophie Mackintosh as his mentor.

Sharon Kanolik

Drawing on her experiences growing up Jewish in small town rural Dorset, Sharon Kanolik‘s The Only Jew In The Village will be a collection of life writing exploring heritage, isolation and multiplicity of the self. Her mentor is Keiron Pim.


Mariyam Karolia

Mariyam Karolia is working on a series of short stories and poetry it will delve into childlessness, sharing the stories of both couples and single people who have chosen not to have children and those who have wanted to have children and been unable to. She is being mentored by Julie Cohen.

Harriet Matthews

Harriet MatthewsIn the Shadow of the Flame is a retelling of Walter Scott’s historical novel Ivanhoe, written from the viewpoint of Rebecca, exploring the prejudicial treatment experienced by the Anglo-Jewish community in the 1190s, as well as themes of love, trauma, and memory. Her mentor is Ruth Gilligan.

Michael Mullen

Glasgow poet Michael Mullen is working on his first poetry collection Lay Down With Dogs, with mentor Michael Pedersen.

Angus Reilly

Angus Reilly is working on a narrative nonfiction account of Henry Kissinger’s life and experiences in the period of World War II, with mentor Helen Fry.

Susan Royston

Susan Royston‘s The House in Mile End is a novel inspired by a box of 1920s love letters; it embraces the Jewish East End of the 1920s in a tale of love, secrets and betrayal. She is working with mentor Adam LeBor.

Eleanor Thom

Eleanor Thom is writing a personal reflection on interdependence, a term borrowed from disability studies. Her mentor is Viv Groskop.


Evie Ward

Evie Ward is a work of autofiction and poetry that explores the process of trying to write, what it means to write and how writing and the everyday push up against one another and seep into one another. Her mentor is Sarah Blake.



About the Genesis Foundation

The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001. Over the past 20 years the Foundation has donated more than £20million to the arts. Through its funding and partnership model, it has enabled opportunities for thousands of young artists in theatre and music, building both their experience and their resilience. Its main focus is on partnerships with leading arts organisations such as the Young Vic, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, LAMDA and The Sixteen, and on training programmes that equip emerging artists for life as a creative professional.

Watch the 2021-2022 Emerging Writers Speaking at JBW2022

The 2021 Programme

The ten selected emerging writers for the 2021 Programme were: Sara Doctors, Sophie Dumont, Madeleine Dunnigan, Linda Ford, Philip Glassborow, Fiona Monahan, Eleanor Myerson, Julie Noble, Karen Skinazi and Guy Stagg. They will receive mentoring, peer support sessions and bursaries, as part of the programme.

Mentors for the 2021 Genesis Emerging Writers Programme are Tracy Chevalier, Benjamin Markovits & AD Miller (fiction); Sam Leith & Kavita Puri (journalism); Caroline Moorehead, George Prochnik & Cathy Rentzenbrink (non-fiction); and  Sophie Herxheimer George Szirtes (poetry).

Booker-nominated novelist AD Miller said: “To judge by the verve and variety of their submissions, these emerging writers have already emerged.”

The Last Act of Love author Cathy Rentzenbrink said: “Mentoring is such an enriching pleasure for me and the standard of applications I saw were so high that I would happily have worked with all the writers. I am excited to see how the programme will develop and looking forward to doing the work.”

T.S Eliot Prize and Intetnational Man Booker winner George Szirtes said: “It was a marvellous shortlist comprising poems about Alzheimer’s, about a Jewish family in Belfast, about beginnings, about living through darkness, and about Piaget, all good, all promising even more.”

Sam Leith, Spectator literary editor added: “I was very impressed and encouraged by the standard of the submissions I read, their ambition and the range of enthusiasms they showed. I’m hugely looking forward to working with these talented people.”

John Studzinski CBE, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said: “Congratulations to our ten emerging writers selected. We are looking forward to creative sparks flying, as they team up with their mentors. We are delighted to be working with Jewish Book Week and in our twentieth year, continuing to fulfil our core mission: to support and nurture creative and emerging talent.”