Author Kit de Waal, who comes to BridLit on 11 November, won The Bridport Prize two years in a row for her flash fiction.

The competition was established by Bridport Arts Centre founder the late Peggy Chapman-Andrews in 1973. It’s now one of the most prestigious literary contests in the world.

De Waal won the Bridport Prize in 2014 with her flash fiction story Romans 1 Verse 29, Sins of the Heart and again the following year with Crushing Big. She returned as a judge in 2017.

Her first novel, My Name is Leon, was published in 2016 and shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. It has been adapted as a one-hour film for BBC 1.

The Guardian wrote: ‘De Waal excels at bringing out the humanity of characters leading small lives on the fringe of huge social and political forces, struggling bravely not to be crushed by them.’

She’s now in the spotlight with her memoir, Without Warning and Only Sometimes – Scenes from an Unpredictable Childhood.

She was on Radio 4’s Start the Week on Monday (you can find it here on the iPlayer ) discussing the city of Birmingham with Tom Sutcliffe, alongside Richard Vinen and Liz Berry.

And her memoir was a Radio 4 Book of the Week.

The memoir is stinging yet warm-hearted.  In a household of opposites and extremes, and caught between three worlds, Irish, Caribbean and British in 1960s Birmingham, de Waal and her siblings knew all the words to the best songs, caught sticklebacks in jam jars and braved hunger and hellfire until they could all escape. 

Without Warning and Only Sometimes is a story of an extraordinary childhood and how a girl who grew up in house where the Bible was the only book on offer went on to discover a love of reading that inspires her to this day.

De Waal’s The Trick to Time, published in 2018, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and she has also published a short story collection, Supporting Cast. She is editor of the Common People anthology, and co-founder of the Big Book Weekend festival. 

She’ll be at The Electric Palace, Bridport, on Friday 11 November at 6.30 pm, in conversation with Lisa Blower, an award-winning short story writer and novelist whose debut novel Sitting Ducks was shortlisted for the inaugural Arnold Bennett Prize, and longlisted for The Guardian Not the Booker 2016.  

Lisa is Senior Lecturer in Creative & Professional Writing at Wolverhampton University where she continues to champion working class fictions and regional voices. 

For tickets, or contact Bridport Tourist Information Centre in Bucky Doo Square (telephone 01308 424901 and email or online at