British poet Sarah Howe has been awarded The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award for her first collection of poems, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus), described as an “enthralling personal exploration of her dual heritage".
The award, which is in its 25th year, recognises the best literary work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer of 35 and under. It re-launched this year with backing from PFD, considering self-published authors for the first time.
Howe was presented with the £5,000 prize for her work which crosses the “boundaries of time, race and language, reflecting on hybridity, intermarriage and love” at a ceremony in London this evening (10th December).
Howe was born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother and moved to England as a child. She is currently a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University, and is the founding editor of Prac Crit, an online journal of poetry and criticism. Loop of Jade has also been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
Andrew Holgate, award judge and literary editor at The Sunday Times, said: “The judges were unanimous in their choice of the winner. From the strongest of shortlists, they selected Loop of Jade as a work of astonishing originality, depth and scope. Her luminous poetry explores her dual heritage and different eras of Chinese culture, juxtaposing these with her own personal experiences. She is a writer always conscious of language; these are poems that are sensuous, subtle, and full of immediacy and resonance.”
(From left) PFD c.e.o. Caroline Michel, Sarah Howe, and the Sunday Times' literary editor Andrew Holgate.
Fellow judge, author and previous winner Sarah Waters said: “The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award has been presented to a fantastic line-up of authors since it was first launched, and I still feel honoured and excited to have been one of its recipients. The boost it gave to my confidence, in the early stages of my career, was tremendous. Helping to judge the prize this year was a great honour, too. Peter, Andrew and I drew up a very strong shortlist from an impressive range of titles, and Sarah Howe, our winner, is a significant literary talent, a very special writer indeed.”
Waters received the award for Affinity (Virago) in 2000. This prize was also judged by The Sunday Times chief fiction reviewer, Peter Kemp.
Also shortlisted for the prize was Ben Fergusson with his historical fiction debut, The Spring of Kasper Meier (Abacus); Sunjeev Sahota with his second novel, the Man Booker shortlisted The Year of the Runaways (Picador); and Sara Taylor’s Bailey’s-nominated collection of interlinked short stories, The Shore (William Heinemann). They each received the runner-up prize of £500.