07/06/2024

Ayòbámi Adébáyò, Eliza Clark and Michael Magee have been longlisted for the £20,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers aged 39 or under. 

The longlist for the prestigious award includes seven novels, three short story collections and two poetry collections that explore themes of “adversity, identity, home and love”. With authors hailing from the UK, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, the US, Canada and Hong Kong, this year’s international longlist is dominated by independent publishers, with nine indie titles.

Three writers previously in contention for the award have returned with appearances on this year’s longlist. Nigerian novelist Adébáyò, who was previously longlisted in 2018 for her debut Stay With Me (Canongate), is on the list this year for her novel A Spell of Good Things (Canongate Books), which tells the stories of two families in modern-day Nigeria.

Meanwhile, British-Ghanaian author Caleb Azumah Nelson, who was shortlisted in 2022 for Open Water (Viking), is longlisted this time for Small Worlds (Viking), which tells the story of a father and a son, across three summers. And US author Catherine Lacey, who was shortlisted in 2021 for Pew (Granta Books), is recognised this year for her “genre-bending” Biography of X (Granta Books).

Elsewhere on the longlist, Caribbean novelist Kevin Jared Hosein brings to life 1940s colonial central Trinidad in his novel Hungry Ghosts (Bloomsbury Publishing UK). British writer A K Blakemore is longlisted for her novel The Glutton (Granta), which explores the French Revolution through the eyes of “a real-life peasant turned freakshow attraction”. 

Moreover, Newcastle-born Clark, who was also the Granta Best Young British Novelist 2023, is longlisted for Penance, which tells the story of a murder among teenagers, on the eve of the Brexit vote. In Close to Home (Hamish Hamilton)—the final novel featured on the longlist this year—Belfast’s Magee, who is one of only two debuts on this year’s list, writes about post-conflict Belfast.

Two of the three short story collections in contention for this year’s prize are by Welsh writers, with debut writer Joshua Jones recognised for Local Fires (Parthian Books), inspired by real stories from his home town of Llanelli. And Thomas Morris, who is also a Granta Best Young British Novelist 2023, has been longlisted this year for Open Up (Faber), which spotlights five “achingly tender, innovative” stories.

The final short story collection on the list is The Coiled Serpent (Atlantic Books), which features stories of “work, Britishness and art-making” by Canadian-born, Edinburgh-based Camilla Grudova—the third Granta Best Young British Novelist 2023 to be nominated.

This year, two writers have been longlisted for their poetry collections, with English poet Kae Tempest recognised for Divisible by Itself and One (Picador), about “the emotional states in which we live and create”, and Hong-Kong poet Mary Jean Chan in the running with the collection Bright Fear (Faber), which explores “identity, multilingualism and postcolonial legacy”.

A six-strong shortlist will now be selected by a panel of judges, chaired by author and co-founder of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale. This will be announced on Thursday 21st March, followed by the winner’s ceremony, held in Swansea on Thursday 16th May after International Dylan Thomas Day on Tuesday 14th May.

The panel comprises Jon Gower, author and lecturer in Creative Writing at Swansea University, Seán Hewitt,  assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin. Former BBC Gulf correspondent and author Julia Wheeler is also a judge this year, as is Tice Cin, artist and author of Keeping the House (And Other Stories), which was longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize in 2022.

Last year’s prize was awarded to Arinze Ifeakandu, for his debut short story collection God’s Children Are Little Broken Things (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).

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