Press Release: The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize @dylanthomprize #IDTP19

Female and Debuts Writers dominate the 2019 Longlist for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize

Top from left: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Clare Fisher, Michael Donkor, Emma Glass, Guy Gunaratne, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Top from left: Zoe Gilbert, Sarah Perry, Richard Scott, Louisa Hall, Sally Rooney, Jenny Xie

The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is excited to announce that this year’s longlist celebrates a whole host of debut authors, including eight dynamic and unique female writers, of which three are debut novelists and one is celebrating her debut poetry collection, and four amazing new, critically acclaimed, debut male voices.

Costa Novel Award Winner Sally Rooney, debut nurse turned novelist Emma Glass, critically acclaimed Man Booker Prize Longlisted debut author Guy Gunaratne and breakout short story writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, are amongst the 12 authors on the longlist for the £30,000 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize. The twelve longlisted  titles will be judged by a panel chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE with Professor Kurt Heinzelman; BBC Broadcaster Di Speirs and award-winning novelist Kit de Waal.

Recognised for its celebration of experimental and challenging young voices in contemporary writing, this year’s longlist highlights more than ever the challenging world we live by tackling head on difficult topics – including domestic violence, mental health, rape, racism, gender and identity. 

This year’s longlist of 12 books comprises eight novels, two short story collections and two poetry collections:

  • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK))
  • Michael Donkor, Hold (4th Estate)
  • Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In (Influx Press)
  • Zoe Gilbert, Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Emma Glass, Peach ((Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline)
  • Louisa Hall, Trinity (Ecco)
  • Sarah Perry, Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People (Faber & Faber)
  • Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
  • Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Atlantic Books)
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)

Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally-renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow. 

Launched in 2006, The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is the largest literary prize in the world for young writers. In 2019 Swansea University will be the first British University to launch an English module based solely on a literary prize, where students will examine the works longlisted for the Prize.

The judging panel is chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE, Emeritus Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University, and historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture. This year’s panel also features: poet, translator, and scholar, Professor Kurt Heinzelman; books editor of BBC Radio, Di Spiers and award-winning author and founding member of Leather Lane Writers and Oxford Narrative Group, Kit de Waal.

About the 2019 longlist, Professor Dai Smith of Swansea University, Chair of the judging panel, said: “The longlist of twelve for the 2019 Swansea University Dylan Thomas International Prize is a starburst of young literary talent. Writers from across the world, from diverse communities and backgrounds, tackle challenging subject matter in ways both unexpected and exhilarating, through short stories, novels or poetry, in folk tale or Gothic mode, with a contemporary scalpel or an historical viewfinder. The list is a treat! And, from the shortlist to come with the spring, an exciting and worthy overall winner to be found by my distinguished panel of judges as summer opens up in May.”

The shortlist of six books will be revealed at the beginning of April.

The winner will be announced on Thursday 16tht May at Swansea University’s Great Hall, just after International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May.

Last year, Zambian-born British poet Kayo Chingonyi won The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize for his critically-acclaimed debut poetry collection Kumukand,  a bold collection exploring black masculinity and rites of passage for young black men in Britain today.

On winning, Kayo Chingonyi said: “I’m staggered. It’s wonderful to receive an award in the name of Dylan Thomas, whose work was introduced to me by an inspirational teacher by the name of Rachel Baroni who introduced me to Under Milk Wood and I’ve been fascinated by his work since then…”

Key Dates 
Longlist Announcement – 31st January
Shortlist Announcement – 2nd April
British Library Event with the shortlist – 15th May

www.swansea.ac.uk/dylan-thomas-prize/              @dylanthomprize          #IDTP19

About the Authors

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is from Spring Valley, New York. He graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University. He was the ’16-’17 Olive B. O’Connor fellow in fiction at Colgate University. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including GuernicaCompose: A Journal of Simply Good WritingPrinter’s RowGravel, and The Breakwater Review, where he was selected by ZZ Packer as the winner of the 2nd Annual Breakwater Review Fiction Contest. Friday Black is his first book.

Michael Donkor was born in London, to Ghanaian parents. He studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, undertook a Master’s in creative Writing at Royal Holloway and now teaches English Literature to secondary school students. Many of the issues in this novel are close to his heart, and his writing won him a place on the Writers’ Centre Norwich Inspires Scheme in 2014, where he received a year’s mentoring from Daniel Hahn.

Clare Fisher was born and made in Tooting, south London in 1987. Her first novel, All the Good Things, was published by Viking, Penguin in 2017. How The Light Gets In, her first short story collection was published by Influx Press in 2018. She now lives in Leeds.

Zoe Gilbert is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally. She has taken part in writing projects in China and South Korea for the British Council, and she is completing a PhD on folk tales in contemporary fiction. The co-founder of London Lit Lab, which provides writing courses and mentoring for writers, she lives on the coast in Kent.

Emma Glass was born in Swansea. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent, then decided to become a nurse and went back to study Children’s Nursing at Swansea University. She lives and works in London. Peach is her first book.

Guy Gunaratne lives between London, UK and Malmö, Sweden. His first novel In Our Mad and Furious City was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards. He has worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker covering human rights stories around the world.

Louisa Hall grew up in Philadelphia.  She is the author of the novels Speak and The Carriage House, and her poems have been published in The New RepublicSouthwest Review, and other journals.  She is a professor at the University of Iowa, and the Western Writer in Residence at Montana State University. Trinity is her third novel.

Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. She has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library and the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague. After Me Comes the Flood, her first novel, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize, and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award in 2014. Her latest novel, The Essex Serpent, was a number one bestseller in hardback, Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, the British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and Dylan Thomas Award, and longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. She lives in Norwich.

Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin. Her work has appeared in the New YorkerGrantaThe White ReviewThe Dublin ReviewThe Stinging Fly, Kevin Barry’s Stonecutter and The Winter Page anthology. Her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, was a Sunday TimesObserver and Telegraph Book of the Year; it was shortlisted for both the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Rooney was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘Mr Salary’ and was the winner of the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second novel Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018. She is the editor of the biannual Dublin literary magazine The Stinging Fly.  

Richard Scott grew up in London and studied at the Royal College of Music and at Goldsmiths College. He has been a winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, a Jerwood/Arvon Poetry mentee, and a member of the Poetry Trust Aldeburgh Eight. His pamphlet Wound (Rialto) won the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2016 and his poem ‘crocodile’ won the 2017 Poetry London Competition. Soho is his first book.  

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma grew up in Zimbabwe, and has lived in South Africa and the USA. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies, and she was awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for the best literary work in English

Jenny Xie is the author of EYE LEVEL (Graywolf Press, 2018), finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, and recipient of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. Her chapbook, NOWHERE TO ARRIVE (Northwestern University Press, 2017) received the Drinking Gourd Prize. Her work has appeared in Poetry​New York Times Magazine, New Republic, and Tin House, among other publications, and she has been supported by fellowships and grants from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Poets & Writers. She is on faculty at New York University and lives in New York.

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