With the shortlist comprising four women and two men, and writers from Zambian, Cuban, Irish, American and British backgrounds, this year’s shortlist is rich with diverse and fresh literary talent.
Now into its 10th year, the International Dylan Thomas Prize – supported by Swansea University – is the most recognised and most lucrative award for English-language writers under the age of 40. Worth a sizeable £30,000, the prize ‘celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama’.
Named after Welsh-born poet Dylan Thomas, the prize looks to support and celebrate the brightest literary talents of tomorrow, regardless of genre or subject matter. The award’s inclusion of poetry, novels, short stories and drama speaks to Thomas’s inability to be categorised or attached to a particular literary movement. Thomas, who is best known for his stirring poem ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, died in 1953 at the age of 39.
This year’s shortlist is female-led, with four women named among the six writers. According to Professor Dai Smith CBE of Swansea University and the chair of the judges, this year’s list ‘is an amazing showcase of young writing talent from across the globe’. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at Swansea University on Thursday, May 10, while the British Library will host a preview celebrating the shortlisted writers on Tuesday, May 8 in London.
Kayo Chingonyi: the Zambian-born poet for his debut collection Kumukanda, which refers to the rites of passage boys of the Luvale tribe must go through to become men.
Carmen Maria Machado: the Cuban-American writer whose debut short story collection Her Body & Other Parties combines ‘Horror, science fiction and fairytale’ according to Justine Jordan of The Guardian.
Gwendoline Riley: the British novelist whose sixth novel First Love takes its title from Turgenev’s novel of the same name, and which provides an uncomfortable insight into a particularly poisonous love story.
Sally Rooney: the Irish novelist and so-called ‘Salinger for the Snapchat generation’ whose debut work Conversations With Friends won her the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award.
Emily Ruskovich: the American novelist whose debut work Idaho explores memory and its limitations in a disturbing tale of a mother who murders her own six-year old daughter.