From Sri Lanka to Trinidad, Texas, and Ireland via the Middle East, this years international longlist for one of the worlds largest literary awards for young writers– the 20,000 pounds Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize — features a powerful collection of writers who are offering platforms for under-represented voices.
Chaired by co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and award-winning author Namita Gokhale, the longlisted titles will now be whittled down to a six-strong shortlist be announced on March 31 followed by the Winner’s Ceremony held in Swansea on May 12, two days before International Dylan Thomas Day.
This year’s longlist celebrates female voices from around the world and includes: the gritty debut novel by interdisciplinary London artist Tice Cin titled “Keeping the House”, American novelist Patricia Lockwood’s meditation on love, language and human connection in “No One is Talking About This”, Dantiel W. Moniz’s debut collection of short intergenerational stories in “Milk Blood Heat” that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all, British writer Fiona Mozley’s urban comedy “Hot Stew”, the honest and darkly funny debut novel “Acts of Desperation” by emerging star of Irish literature Megan Nolan, and British-born Prague-based Helen Oyeyemi’s exploration of what it means to be seen by another person in “Peaces”.
There are also two female poets in the running including Desiree Bailey for her lyrical quest for belonging and freedom in “What Noise Against the Cane” as she draws on her cultural identity and upbringing in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Indian-born Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, whose first poetry collection “Auguries of a Minor God” follows two different journeys, the first of love and the wounds it makes and the second following a family of refugees who have fled to the West from conflict in an unspecified Middle Eastern country.
The debut novelist line-up is further completed by the contemporary classic “The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris, who fuses together historical fiction and the complex reality of society today, and the achingly beautiful love story “Open Water” (now sold in 13 territories worldwide) by 25-year-old British-Ghanaian writer Caleb Azumah Nelson, who shines a light on race and masculinity.
Additionally, among the 12 authors on the longlist are Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasam for his masterful novel “A Passage North” that explores age and youth, loss and survival in the wake of the devastation of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war and Brandon Taylor’s “Filthy Animals” that brings together quietly devastating stories of young people caught up in violence and desire, while longing for intimacy.