Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist Highlights the Rising Stars of the Literary World

Posted on 19 October 2012

A 21 year old Nigerian novelist is the youngest of five rising literary stars shortlisted for the 2012 University of Wales’ Dylan Thomas Prize, announced today. Open to any published author in the English language under the age of 30, the annual international prize is one of the largest of its kind in the world for young writers.

21 year old Chibundu Onuzo’s book The Spider King’s Daughter is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet set against the backdrop of a changing Lagos. Also from Africa is Zimbabwe-raised Andrea Eames’ The White Shadow, set in 1970’s Rhodesia, where a young boy struggles to do the right thing in an unpredictable world.  Californian Maggie Shipstead’s debut novel Seating Arrangements, which lays bare the pretentions of New England society,also makes the cut, along with Tom Benn’s crime fiction debut The Doll Princess, which explores the criminal underworld of 90’s Manchester.  Canadian D.W. Wilson’s collection of short stories Once You Break a Knuckle, about good people who make bad choices, completes a list of powerful and exciting books with a truly international reach, in which violence, repression and the difficulty of escaping pre-determined roles are themes which prevail throughout.

The five young writers were chosen by a panel of judges including Hay Festival founder Peter Florence, novelist Allison Pearson, Catatonia singer and BBC 6 music presenter Cerys Matthews, and Guardian Review journalist Nicholas Wroe.

Chairman of the Dylan Thomas Prize Peter Stead said:

"These books have come from around the world, two from Africa, one from Canada, one from the USA and one from England, and the hallmark of them all is readability. These are all thunderingly good stories written with maturity, flair and confidence. Yet again the Dylan Thomas prize is assured a great winner".

Judge Cerys Matthews added:

“Considering that Dylan wrote some of his most revered poetry at the age of 20, it’s great to be involved in something which encourages young writers. The short listing was fraught with differing opinions; I look forward to the final melee!”

Following the announcement of the 2012 Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, The Dylan Thomas Prize celebrates up-and-coming writing talent which will be making a significant mark on the literary scene in years to come.  The Prize honours the internationally esteemed works of Dylan Thomas, who first came to the attention of the literary establishment on the publication of Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines when he was just 20 years old. 

With a prize fund of £30,000, The Dylan Thomas Prize exists to nurture and inspire young writing talent from around the world - beginning on its very own doorstep. Starting this week, the Prize’s education programme, DylanEd, will be sending creative writing teachers out to 10 schools across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthen and Powys. The Shortlisted authors will also participate in a programme of workshops and readings in the Welsh community in the week preceding the Winner Announcement. The Prize aims to bring Wales to the World, and the World to Wales by inspiring Welsh youngsters with visits from young international published authors, and turning the literary spotlight on Wales and its own great legacies.

The Winner of the Prize will be announced at a glittering ceremony on 9th November – the anniversary of Dylan’s death.

Notes to Editors:

The University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize 2012 Short-list:
Tom Benn, 24 – The Doll Princess (Vintage Publishing)
Andrea Eames, 26 – The White Shadow (Harvill Secker/Random House)
Chibundu Onuzo, 21 – The Spider King’s Daughter (Faber)
Maggie Shipstead, 28 – Seating Arrangements (Blue Door)
DW Wilson, 27 – Once You Break A Knuckle (Bloomsbury)

The University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize 2012 Judging Panel:
Peter Florence
Kurt Heinzelman
Carolyn Hitt
Kim Howells
Cerys Matthews
Allison Pearson
Peter Stead
Nicholas Wroe

The winner will be announced at The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea on Wednesday 9th November 2012.

If you would like to attend the Awards Ceremony and Winner’s Announcement, interview an author, or if you require any further information, please contact Helen Barnes at FMcM on 0207 4057422 or email helenb@fmcm.co.uk

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