'Exceptional' and 'diverse' Young Writer of the Year Award shortlist revealed

'Exceptional' and 'diverse' Young Writer of the Year Award shortlist revealed

Five authors are in the running for The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, after judges made the "rare exception" to increase the prize's usual shortlist from four to five in wake of the "incomparable strength" of this year’s list of submissions. Shortlisted authors for the prize are: Minoo Dinshaw, Claire North, Julianne Pachico, Sally Rooney and Sara Taylor.

The Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate, who forms the judging panel with Turkish author Elif Shafak, cultural historian and biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett, said the expansion of the shortlist "spoke volumes" of the quality of the recognised works.

"The fact that the judges decided to nominate five instead of the usual four authors speaks volumes about the strength of this year's shortlist – diverse, adventurous, immensely mature and confident," he said. "The fact, too, that the voices we've picked come from such a range of backgrounds is a true endorsement of the confident, outward-looking nature of young British and Irish literature at the moment. We're going to have a very difficult task on our hands choosing a winner from such an exceptional shortlist."

Four women and one man made the cut for the prize, with the shortlist comprising three novels, a collection of short stories and a biography.

North is shortlisted for The End of the Day (Orbit), a novel "of life, death and everything in between". 

Dinshaw is shortlisted for her debut Outlandish Knight – The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman (Allen Lane), the biography of a "great and strange" British historian, while fellow Penguin Random House author Taylor is recognised for The Lauras (Windmill), a book exploring identity and relationships. Taylor returns to the shortlist after also being nominated for the award in 2015.

And two Faber authors have made the shortlist: Pachico for her debut collection of stories, set mostly in Columbia, The Lucky Ones (Faber and Faber), and Rooney for Conversations with Friends (Faber and Faber), "an unforgettable novel about the possibility of love".

Shafak commented: "Our wonderful shortlist celebrates the depth and breadth of literature today, reflecting a striking diversity of styles, interests, genres and backgrounds. True, only one of these authors will win the prize in the end, but each of the five shortlisted books has already won our hearts, and we are confident that they will similarly win the hearts of readers worldwide."

The overall winner of the prize, sponsored by literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, will be awarded £5,000 and £400 will go to each of the four runners-up. 

Shortlisted authors will appear at a public event at Waterstones Trafalgar Square on 28th November, and the winner of the prize, in association with the University of Warwick - who are also offering a bespoke 10-week residency for the award’s winner - will be announced at a reception at the London Library on 7th December. 

For the second year running, the award will be chronicled by an "official shadow judging panel" made up of book bloggers Dane Cobain (socialbookshelves.com), Rebecca Foster (bookishbeck.wordpress.com), Elle Franzen (ellethinks.wordpress.com/), Annabel Gaskell (shinynewbooks.co.uk/gaskella.wordpress.com), and Clare Rowland (alittleblogofbooks.com).

The prize, begun in 1991, took a seven-year break before returning in 2015, when it awarded debut poet Sarah Howe the top prize for her first collection, Loop of Jade, which then went on to win the T.S. Eliot Prize. Last year, Max Porter won for his novel Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, which also took the Dylan Thomas Prize.