Record nine debuts make the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

Record nine debuts make the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

A record nine debut writers have made the longlist for the £20,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize, including Raven Leilani (pictured), Naoise Dolan and Gabriel Krauze.

The annual prize, open to poetry, novels, short stories and drama, is awarded for the best published literary work in the English language written by an author under the age of 40.

This year's list features nine novels, two poetry collections and one short story collection, ranging from Seoul to Dublin, while exploring themes of homeland, identity and relationships. There are also a trio of nods for 4th Estate titles and two each for Granta and Picador.

Among the nine new voices are Dolan for her deadpan debut Exciting Times (W&N), Frances Cha’s dissection of consumerism If I Had Your Face (Viking), Kate Elizabeth Russell's exploration of sexual consent My Dark Vanessa (4th Estate) and Leilani's much-acclaimed Luster (Picador). 

The line-up of first novels is completed by Krauze's Who They Was (4th Estate), based on the author's personal experience of London gang violence, and Kingdomtide, a story of survival from Rye Curtis (4th Estate).

There are also two debut poetry collections on the list, with Philippines-born NHS nurse Romalyn Ante picked for her Antiemetic for Homesickness (Chatto), and Will Harris, who draws on his Anglo-Indonesian heritage to create an exploration of cultural identity in Rendang (Granta). Syria-born Dima Alzayat is shortlisted for short story collection Alligator and Other Stories (Picador).

The three remaining titles in contention are The Death of Vivek Oji, the second novel from Igbo and Tamil author Akwaeke Emezi (Faber), the foreboding Pew by Catherine Lacey (Granta), and Caoilinn Hughes’ The Wild Laughter (Oneworld), set during the wake of the Celtic Tiger devastation.

The selections will be whittled down to a six-strong shortlist by a judging panel chaired by writer, publisher and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale; alongside founder and director of the Bradford Literature Festival, Syima Aslam; poet Stephen Sexton; writer Joshua Ferris; and novelist and academic Francesca Rhydderch.

The shortlist announcement will take place on 25th March, with the winner revealed on 13th May, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.