Sunjeev Sahota and Sara Taylor are among the four authors who have made the shortlist for The Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award.
The prize, from the Sunday newspaper and literary agency Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, is 25 years old but was re-launched in May to include self-published writers for the first time.
Author Ben Fergusson has made the shortlist for his critically acclaimed historical fiction debut, The Spring of Kasper Meier (Abacus); Sarah Howe for her poetic exploration of heritage and identity, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus); Sahota for his second novel, the Man Booker-shortlisted The Year of the Runaways (Picador), a timely take on the British immigrant experience; and Taylor for her Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction-longlisted collection of interlinked short stories, The Shore (William Heinemann).
The award recognises the best literary work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer of 35 and under, with £5,000 given as the prize.
Judges for this year's award are author Sarah Waters; The Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate and chief fiction reviewer Peter Kemp.
Commenting on the shortlist, Waters, also a previous winner, said: “This is a wonderful line-up of books from four extremely talented writers. I think what’s particularly thrilling is the range of work on display here, as well as its quality. Each of these books confronts the complexities of life, but each has its own distinct style, its own energy. Collectively, they offer a very exciting snapshot of the literary scene.”
Holgate added that the response from publishers and writers this year had been “huge” and the quality of the shortlist “better than any previous shortlist” he could remember.
He said: “So many things about the award in its new incarnation are better than I could possibly have hoped for: the huge response by publishers and writers to the initial call-in; the immense support provided by Peters Fraser & Dunlop; the enthusiastic way in which the prize has been received; and the sheer quality of this shortlist, which is better than any previous shortlist I can remember for the award. The diversity of genres - poetry, historical thriller, novel and linked short stories - speaks volumes for the adventurous nature of much modern writing, and the variety of themes and approaches is immensely impressive. There is such quality here, and it's a shortlist to be proud of.”
The prize was suspended in 2008, but Holgate told The Bookseller in May that he had long wanted to resurrect it. “There was some trimming going on back then [because of the recession] so we suspended it, but ever since I’ve always wanted to re-start it,” he said.
Imprints were able to submit two titles, but could petition the judges to send in a third. Self-published books were submitted first to PFD, with six self-published titles sent on to the judges. Holgate said: “It is about adjusting the prize to the realities of the modern world; there is no reason why we should have a bias against self-published works.” However, no self-published titles have made the shortlist.
The winner of The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2015 will be revealed on Thursday 10th December.