Swansea, 21 January 2021: The international longlist for one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – is announced today, featuring a record number of nine debut writers.
The list comprises nine novels, two poetry collections and one short story collection, and at a time when travel has been restricted and contact with loved ones limited, these extraordinary titles – eight of which are by female writers – transport the reader from Seoul to Hong Kong, Syria to Kilburn, Montana to Dublin, in a powerful exploration of homeland, identity, and relationships:
The nine new voices on the list includes four of the most dynamic female novelists writing today: Naoise Dolan and her deadpan debut Exciting Times, Frances Cha’s vivid dissection of consumerism in If I Had Your Face,The line-up of first novels is completed by Gabriel Krauze and his brutal novel based on a personal experience of London gang violence, Who They Was, and Kingdomtide, the suspenseful story of survival from Rye Curtis.
There are two debut poets up for the £20,000 Prize – Philippines born NHS nurse Romalyn Ante and her expansive Antiemetic for Homesickness, and Will Harris, who draws on his Anglo-Indonesian heritage to create a sharp exploration of cultural identity in Rendang – and one short story collection: the first title from Syria born, whose captures how it feels to be ‘other’ through nine powerful tales.
The three remaining titles in contention are The Death of Vivek Ojinon-binary author Akwaeke Emezi, the foreboding ,
Worth £20,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.
The longlist will now be whittled to a six strong shortlist by a judging panel chaired by award-winning writer, publisher and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale alongside founder and director of the Bradford Literature Festival, Syima Aslam, poet Stephen Sexton, writer Joshua Ferris and novelist and academic Francesca Rhydderch.
On receiving the 2020 award for his debut short story collection, LOT, the twenty-seven-year-old American writer Bryan Washington said: “It's a gift whenever an audience gives you the time of day for a story, whatever that is, let alone to be acknowledged for your work on such a massive platform. And it's an honour to tell stories about the communities that are dear to me, and the communities that I live among - marginalized communities, communities of colour, and queer communities of colour, specifically... I'm very grateful.”
The longlist announcement is followed by a special online event at the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival in February 2021.
The shortlist announcement will take place on 25 March, with the winner revealed on 13 May, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.
LONGLIST TITLE & AUTHOR INFORMATION:
Caoilinn Hughes is an Irish writer. Her first novel Orchid & the Wasp (Oneworld 2018) won the Collyer Bristow Prize 2019 and was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Awards, the Butler Literary Award and was longlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and the International DUBLIN Literary Award. Her poetry collection, Gathering Evidence (Carcanet 2014) won the Irish Times Strong/Shine Award. Her short fiction won The Moth Short Story Prize 2018, an O.Henry Prize in 2019 and the Irish Book Awards' Story of the Year 2020. Her second novel, The Wild Laughter (2020) was shortlisted for the An Post Irish Book Awards' Novel of the Year, the RTÉ Radio 1 Listener's Choice Award 2020. She is the 2021 Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.
Gabriel Krauze grew up in London in a Polish family and was drawn to a life of crime and gangs from an early age. Now in his thirties he has left that world behind and is recapturing his life through writing. He has published short stories in Vice. Who They Was is his first novel.
Raven Leilani’s work has been published in Granta, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. She received her MFA from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel.
Namita Gokhale (Chair of the)
Namita Gokhale is an award-winning writer, publisher and festival director. She is the author of twenty books, including ten works of fiction. Her latest novel Jaipur Journals, published in 2020, is set against the backdrop of the vibrant Jaipur Literature Festival, of which Gokhale is a co-founder-director. Jaipur Journals will be published in the UK in Spring 2021 by HopeRoad Publishing. She is director of Yatra Books, a publishing house specialised in translation. Gokhale was conferred the Centenary National Award for Literature by the Assam Sahitya Sabha in Guwahati in 2017. Her novel Things to Leave Behind has won the Sushila Devi Literature Award in January 2019 and Valley of Words Book Award for the Best English Fiction. Follow her on Twitter @NamitaGokhale_
Syima Aslam is the founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival (BLF), which she established in 2014. A 10-day literary and cultural celebration, BLF welcomes more than 70,000 visitors to Bradford annually and is celebrated as the most socio-economically and ethnically diverse literary festival in the UK. Under Syima’s directorship, BLF has made a significant impact on the country’s literary landscape, hailed as ‘one of the most innovative and inspirational festivals in the UK’, bringing together literature from all genres, promoting intercultural fluency, providing a platform for marginalised voices, and reflecting the changing face of contemporary Britain through a programme which celebrates diversity, empathy and artistic excellence.
Stephen Sexton’s first book, If All the World and Love Were Young was the winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2019 and the Shine / Strong Award for Best First Collection. He is the 2020 recipient of the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was the winner of the National Poetry Competition in 2016 and the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. He teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast. Follow him on Twitter @ssexton02
Joshua Ferris is the bestselling author of three novels and a collection of short stories, The Dinner Party. He has been a finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, and was named one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" writers in 2010. He lives in New York.
Francesca Rhydderch is a novelist and academic. In 2014, her debut novel The Rice Paper Diaries was longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines and broadcast on Radio 4 and Radio Wales. She was the recipient of a BBC/Tŷ Newydd bursary in 2010, and in 2014 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. She subsequently co-edited Seren Books’ most recent fiction anthology New Welsh Short Stories with Penny Thomas, and has been Associate Professor in Creative Writing at Swansea University since 2015.