Waterstones' 2016 Book of the Year, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, has been longlisted for the £30,000 International Dylan Thomas Prize.
The prize, in partnership with Swansea University, longlisted 12 titles for the prize, awarded for "the best published" literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, invoking the memory of Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas. Launched in 2006, The International Dylan Thomas Prize credits itself as the largest literary prize in the world for young writers.
This year’s 12-strong longlist comprises six novels, four short story collections, and two volumes of poetry.
Of the six novels are three debut novels: Pigeon, by the north Walian author and creative writing lecturer, Alys Conran (Parthian Books) about an intense childhood friendship; The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler (Picador), set in 1960s California and Vietnam; and The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta), Sri Lankan civil war-set romance. Last year’s winner was Max Porter for his debut Grief is the Thing with Feathers, since awarded The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award for the same book.
In addition to Perry's Essex-set historical novel The Essex Serpent (Serpent's Tail), the remaining longlisted novels are Jonathan Safran Foer's third novel Here I Am (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) about an American Jewish family as a marriage falls apart and Ghanaian-American author, Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing (Alfred A Knopf).
Picador accounts for a quarter of all longlisted entries, with also Helen Oyeyemi's What is Not Yours is Not Yours (Picador) and Benjamin Hale's The Fat Artist and Other Stories (Picador) on the list.
Also on the longlist are: Luke Kennard for Cain (Penned in the Margins); Fiona McFarlane for The High Places (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Safiya Sinclair for Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press); and Callan Wink for Dog Run Moon: Stories (Granta).
Professor John Spurr, head of the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, said: “This year’s longlist demonstrates the breadth, humanity and promise being produced by young international writers of such incredible talent. Featuring prose and poetry from new and established authors from around the world, it is a longlist to be relished. At this stage, the only certainty now is that the judging panel will end up with an exceptionally strong shortlist of six stunningly gifted authors”.
Chaired by historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture Professor Dai Smith CBE, this year’s judging panel also features poet and scholar Professor Kurt Heinzelman, Alison Hindell, who is head of Audio Drama, UK for the BBC, novelist Professor Sarah Moss, and author Prajwal Parajuly.
The shortlist of six books will be revealed at the end of March. The winner will be announced on 10th May at Swansea University’s Great Hall, in the run up to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14th May.