emagazine Close Reading Competition 2021

Welcome to the 2021 emagazine Close Reading Competition! Open to current Year 12 and Year 13 students only.

This Year's Text

We’re delighted that this year’s emagazine Close Reading Competition gives you the opportunity to read and respond to an extract from Yaa Gyasi’s epic novel Homegoing. Download the extract here.

Entering the Competition

Write a 500-word close reading of the passage from Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Download the extract here.

Complete your details and submit your entry at


  • Competition launches: Friday 12th February 2021
  • Close of competition: 5pm Wednesday 31st March
  • (Please note: we will NOT accept entries received after 5pm Wednesday 31st March, so don’t leave it to the last minute!)
  • Results announced online and by email: Tuesday 4th May
  • Results and winning entry will be published in the September issue of emagazine.

The Judges

This year the competition will be judged by the emagazine editors and Dr Jenny Stevens.


  • Winner: £200 and publication in emagazine
  • Two runners-up: £50 and publication on the emagazine website.

Some Tips

Before starting to write your analysis it’s worth reminding yourself of what makes a good critical response. The following points are summarised from the judges’ comments over the last few years.

  • The best critical writing about texts:
  • Genuinely explores what you find interesting about the text. 
  • Looks closely at what is special and distinctive about this particular text.
  • Recognises complexity and doesn’t try to over-simplify... but is also willing to commit to a reading of the text. 
  • Has a clear sense of the text as a whole, with discussion moving between the detail and the bigger picture.
  • Is written in a clear and simple style.
  • Explores the text tentatively but doesn’t simply list possible readings – has a clear line of argument.
  • Shows ownership of, and investment in, the interpretation.
  • Is focused on what is significant, avoiding micro-analysis or over-interpretation of tiny details.
  • Is not formulaic (avoiding structuring every paragraph point-evidence-explanation).
  • Uses technical literary vocabulary accurately and only when relevant, where it genuinely contributes to the analysis.