The Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation is thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2023 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, Best Published Novel award, is Emma Styles with No Country for Girls (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group).

No Country for Girls was selected by judges Felicity Aston MBE, climate scientist, polar explorer, and expedition leader; Leon McCarron, award-winning adventurer, filmmaker, and writer; Simon Savidge, journalist, presenter, Associate Literary Curator at Story House, and founder of the popular blog and BookTube channel @SavidgeReads; and Giles Kristian, acclaimed author and winner of the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, along with a reader’s vote equating to one seat on the judging panel. 

Giles Kristian said:

‘For this prize, No Country for Girls has everything you could want – living, breathing characters, evocative descriptions, and a journey across an unforgiving landscape. It is an adventure novel through and through.'

Leon McCarron commented:

‘I just love the sense of adventure in No Country for Girls. That road trip is written to perfection. The protagonists are great, and it is full of excitement and jeopardy. It is just what an adventure book should be.’ 

Styles’ contemporary Australian road trip emerged victorious from an incredibly strong shortlist, comprising three modern and three historical novels. 

Niso Smith, Founder, formally announced Styles as the winner at the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize Awards Ceremony, hosted at London’s Royal Geographical Society on Wednesday 18th October.

She said: 

‘The entries this year were strong, the shortlist filled with remarkable yarns that push the boundaries of adventure fiction. It was a delight to have such diverse and inventive narratives to share with readers, a testament to this thriving genre and its ability to take readers on exhilarating journeys, through landscapes and experiences.
As for No Country for Girls? It’s gritty. Arresting. A story of young, female empowerment and resilience. A resounding triumph. Congratulations, Emma!’

Smith continued:

‘I want to express our sincere gratitude to the committed librarians and library staff who generously volunteer their time to select the long and shortlists. We had panellists from huge inner-city public libraries to tiny community-run rural libraries, from the North and South of the UK, from coastal communities and the most inland points of the country. The award’s ethos is ‘an adventure for everyone’, so we try to make everyone a part of the process.’  

The other titles on the shortlist were: 

My Name is Yip by Paddy Crewe (Doubleday, Penguin Random House)

Going Zero by Anthony McCarten (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan)

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris (Duckworth)

The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley (Raven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang (Penguin Michael Joseph)

Huge congratulations to each of the authors on the shortlist. Thank you for writing and sharing these powerful novels with us.

The annual Prize has three distinct categories designed to provide opportunities to published, unpublished and young writers. It is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English. Across the categories, the Prize received over 1,000 submissions from 67 different countries.

NEW VOICES, in partnership with Bonnier Books UK

Five writers have been selected as the winners of the 2023 New Voices award, designed to support them to take an idea and turn it into a finished manuscript.

The shortlisted authors hail from Ghana, the UK and the USA and will be supported through their journey by the Foundation as they receive one-to-one editorial guidance and mentoring.

Rachel Johnson, Head of Brand at Bonnier Books who sponsor and support the award, said:

‘It is a privilege to be part of the exciting writing journey these five writers are about to embark on.
This year, it has been particularly thrilling to see such original story ideas: from a high school science teacher trying to untangle himself from an unusual criminal gang; to the tension of ten months’ isolation in preparation for a space mission; to being dropped into a new culture with an accompanying political scandal, we have seen fresh ideas and exciting talent.  We can’t wait to see how the stories develop over the coming months. Congratulations to the five winners, and good luck!’

Congratulations to all five writers. To find out more about the five selected writers and their works in progress, please visit New Voices Writers 2023.

AUTHOR OF TOMORROW, in partnership with Worldreader

Selected by a panel of young judges, the winners of the Author of Tomorrow award for a short adventure story by writers aged 21 and under, are:

11 and Under - Prize: £100 plus £150 book tokens for your school

Winner: Crown of the Crows by Amber XinTi Wang (age 11)

12-15 years - Prize: £100 plus £150 book tokens for your school

Winner: Death & Co. by Luke Zhang (age 14)

16-21 years - Prize: £1,000

Winner: Cold Moon by Tianna Maidens (age 16)

Highly Commended by Niso Smith: 

Bear Country by Justin Schwab (age 18)

Each of the ten shortlisted writers worked with an editor to ready their work for digital publication. Then ten stories are now available to read in Worldreader’s app BookSmart, in an anthology titled Aliens, Apocalypse and the Afterlife. Worldreader is a global literacy charity on a mission to make everyone a reader.

To read the anthology, visit

For further information about this year’s authors click here.

Once again, we would like to say congratulations to all of the authors involved in this year’s prize, and a huge thank you to our incredible team of judges, librarians and volunteers.