2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist Announced

Posted on 22 September 2010
Dylan Thomas Shortlist 2010

Professor Peter Stead with this year's shortlisted books

Young women writers are making their mark in the literary world as the 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize announces its shortlist.

The £30,000 Prize, which is now awarded annually, has revealed a six-strong shortlist from a longlist of sixteen, five of whom are female. The writers hail from five continents in what is the Prize’s most diverse shortlist to date, and the six works consist of two poetry collections and four novels, covering topics from war and family to love and betrayal.

The shortlisted writers are 23 year-old British poet Caroline Bird, the first ever writer to have been nominated twice for the Prize, a considerable achievement given the Prize’s under 30’s entry criteria; Nadifa Mohamed, from Somalia, who cited Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood as inspiration for her shortlisted novel Black Mamba Boy, which describes a journey from Somalia to Port Talbot; Eleanor Catton, who explores the controversial topic of an affair between a high school girl and her teacher in The Rehearsal; Indian-born Karan Mahajan with his debut novel Family Planning; American poet Elyse Fenton with her acclaimed collection, Clamor, a striking book of war poetry in which a woman reflects on her lover fighting in Afghanistan and Emily Mackie, who based her shortlisted novel And This is True in the Highlands of Scotland where she grew up.

Peter Florence, Chair of the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize judging panel, said:

"There's incredible diversity of culture, experience and geography here. I'm thrilled at the quality and range of the shortlisted books, but what's most exciting for the jury is that at this stage they're all equally favoured, and everyone's in with a shout."

The 2010 shortlist will be welcomed by aspiring young women writers across the world, after award winning novelist A.S. Byatt, winner of the 1990 Man Booker prize, recently stated that women who write smart, demanding novels are perceived by critics as strange and unnatural, and that she believed it was very hard for women to be accepted if they wrote intellectually challenging fiction. Dylan Thomas Prize founder and member of the judging panel, Professor Peter Stead, commented:

“I am delighted with this year’s shortlist, the Prize is gaining momentum year on year and I think the quality of entries we receive for each award is always reflected in the long and shortlist. As a panel, we were both pleased and surprised to see that the final six were predominately female writers, as there was a fairly even spread on the longlist. Regardless of gender, this is an outstanding shortlist that, in my opinion, rivals that of the world’s best-known literary awards.

“What strikes me this year is the sheer readabilty and accessibility of these books. These are great books: books to be read and enjoyed by all readers and not least by young people. I am confident that we will again have a winner worthy of Dylan Thomas himself in 2010.”

Professor Marc Clement, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, said:
“The work of the young writers whose work has been selected for this year’s shortlist displays a breathtaking wealth of skill and talent, and reflects the ethos of the Prize perfectly. I wish the judges well in the extremely daunting task of choosing the most deserving.”

The judging panel’s thoughts on the 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist:

Professor Kurt Heinzlman on ‘Watering Can’, Caroline Bird:
“There’s real mastery at work here. A talented and stylish poet that can take wit and whimsy and shoot it though with something stronger”

Gwyneth Lewis on ‘Clamor’, Elyse Fenton
“This collection took my breath away. It is beautifully composed throughout and written with high ambition.”

Professor Peter Stead on ‘The Rehearsal’, Eleanor Catton
“I loved it. This is very much for the current generation and the role of performance culture in today’s society has never been better explained”

Professor Peter Stead on ‘Family Planning’, Karan Mahajan
“There’s real comedic skill here. It’s a laugh-out-loud novel that immerses you in its geography and its satire”

Natalie Moody on ‘Black Mamba Boy’, Nadifa Mohamed
“This is an important book that deserves to be read and re-read. It’s stunning story-telling”.

Professor Peter Stead on ‘And this is true’, Emily Mackie
“An extraordinarily subtle piece of writing. One of the best books I’ve read about the trauma of moving away from parental control. One of the best descriptions I have read of a son escaping from a fascination with his father and forging his own affiliations'.


For further information please contact Lauren Allchurch or Natasha Fulford at MGB PR on 01792 460200 or email Lauren@mgbpr.com

The winner will be announced on 1st December 2010 in an awards ceremony in Swansea.

The University of Wales

The University of Wales is a major national institution in Wales. It is committed to helping to fulfil the educational and economic needs of Wales and to supporting its linguistic, cultural, and national heritage. Looking beyond its distinctive Welsh responsibilities, the University is also committed to its international role and to enhancing its standing across the UK and overseas. To date, the University has awarded over 600,000 degrees to students worldwide and is the second largest degree-awarding body in the United Kingdom. To find out more please visit: www.wales.ac.uk

The full 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist is:

Caroline Bird, 23 - Watering Can (Carcanet)
Elyse Fenton, 29 – Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center)
Eleanor Catton, 24 - The Rehearsal (Portobello Books)
Emilie Mackie, 27 - And This is True (Sceptre)
Karan Mahajan, 26 - Family Planning (Harper Perennial)
Nadifa Mohamed, 28 - Black Mamba Boy (Harper Collins)

The 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize judging panel is:

Peter Florence – Chair of Judges and founder of the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts
Kate Burton – Acclaimed stage and screen actress
Professor Peter Stead - Prize founder, historian, renowned broadcaster and cultural commentator
Kurt Heinzelman - Professor of English at the University of Texas, a founding Board member of the Dylan Thomas Prize and a judge in both 2006 and 2008
Gwyneth Lewis - award winning poet and journalist who was named as the first National poet of Wales
Bruno Maddox - novelist and former reviewer for The New York Times and Editor-in-chief of Spy magazine

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