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Longlist for prestigious Dylan Thomas Prize announced

29 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist 2023

The international longlist for one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers, the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize has been announced.

Organisers say that the longlisted authors hail from the UK, Ireland, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Lebanon and Australia, with an even split between debut and established authors.

Covering themes of coming of age, adversity and love, the list includes eight novels, two poetry collections and two short story collections.

Worth £20,000, the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, and includes poetry, novels, short stories and drama.

The judging panel is chaired by British producer and Books Editor for BBC Radio Di Speirs, working alongside prize-winning Welsh author and lecturer in English at Swansea University Jon Gower, American bestselling author and 2012 winner of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize winner Maggie Shipstead, British poet and the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, Rachel Long, and Nepali Indian author and 2013 Prize shortlistee Prajwal Parajuly.

The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist will be announced on Thursday 23 March followed by the winner’s ceremony held in Swansea on Thursday 11 May, prior to International Dylan Thomas Day on Sunday 14 May.

Longlist authors

African diaspora writers are among the new authors on this year’s longlist. Somali-British writer Warsan Shire, the celebrated poet behind Beyoncé’s features Lemonade and Black is King, pays homage to Black women and teenage girls in Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, while Kenyan born, German based Okwiri Oduor uses magical realism to brilliant effect in Things They Lost.

Nigeria’s Arinze Ifeakandu explores what it means to be a queer male in his home country in the God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, and Derek Owusu considers the generational impact of a mother’s journey from Ghana to the UK in his second novel, Losing the Plot.

Of the 12 nominations, 8 are female writers including up-and-coming British literary talent exploring how it feels to come of age in a hostile environment. 

Saba Sam’s tender and witty Send Nudes highlights the confusing double standards facing women today and Sheena Patel offers a piercing critique of social media and heteronormative relationships in I’m a Fan.

Sexual politics are skewered by the teenage female protagonist of Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens, while Maddie Mortimer’s Desmond Elliott prize-winning Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies offers a darkly funny depiction of a mother-daughter relationship.

Elsewhere on the longlist, books consider national identity and the search for home.

Australian Robbie Arnott’s coming-of-age novel, Limberlost, transports readers to rural Tasmania whilst the notion of home takes a troubling turn in No Land to Light On, the heart wrenching second novel from Lebanon born Yara Zgheib, who portrays a young Syrian couple torn apart by a hostile travel ban.

From Ireland, Ciaran O’Rourke’s daring poetry collection Phantom Gang considers global inequalities from the context of his homeland, and Sara Baume depicts a young couple’s attempts to disappear into the Irish countryside in the stunning Seven Steeples.

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