2017 Shortlist Announcement

The shortlist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize in partnership with Swansea University is announced today (28 March). Launched in 2006, the accolade is the largest literary prize in the world for young writers at £30,000.

The 2016 Waterstones Book of the Year, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, features on the shortlist alongside two debut novels: Pigeon by Welsh author Alys Conran and The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam from Sri Lanka.

A book of poetry, Cain by Luke Kennard, also makes the list, along with two collections of short stories; Dog Run Moon: Stories by Callan Wink and Fiona McFarlane’s The High Places.

warded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally-renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

The full shortlist is:

  • The Story of a Brief Marriage – Anuk Arudpragasam – Sri Lanka (Granta)
  • Pigeon – Alys Conran – UK (Parthian)
  • Cain – Luke Kennard – UK (Penned in the Margins)
  • The High Places – Fiona McFarlane - Australia (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry - UK (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Dog Run Moon:  Stories – Callan Wink – US (Granta)

Independent publishers dominate the International Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist, accounting for five of the six books.

Last year’s winner was Max Porter for his highly-acclaimed debut book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers – part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief. Porter has since been awarded The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award for the same book.

The judging panel is chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE, of Swansea University, who said of this year’s shortlist:

“From a deeply impressive long list of 12 works of literature from across the globe, the judges, after a lengthy discussion, decided on six works whose sheer quality, originality and dazzle factor stood out. We have a novella from Sri Lanka, two collections of short stories, one from Australia and the other from the USA, a book of poetry and a novel from English authors, and a debut novel from Wales. They are all winners in themselves, but the eventual overall winner, to be announced in Swansea on May 10th, will again ensure, coming from this dazzling list, that the International Dylan Thomas Prize, in partnership with Swansea University, will amaze and delight readers around the world.”

Professor Smith is Emeritus Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University and historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture; this year’s judging panel also features: poet and scholar, Professor Kurt Heinzelman; Alison Hindell, Head of Audio Drama, UK for the BBC; novelist and Professor Sarah Moss, and author Prajwal Parajuly.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 10 May at Swansea University’s Great Hall, in the run up to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May.


Anuk Arudpragasam was born in 1988, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. After studying philosophy at Stanford University, he is continuing his research through a PhD at Colombia University. The Story of a Brief Marriage is the first novel by this young author, who writes in English and Tamil. He currently lives in New York City.

Originally from North Wales, Alys Conran studied both Literature and Creative writing at the University of Edinburgh, the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona and the University of Manchester, before becoming a creative writing lecturer at Bangor University. Her short fiction has previously been placed in the Bristol Short Story Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize. She is currently working on a second novel, and also publishes poetry, creative non-fiction, creative essays and literary translations. Pigeon is also the first book to be published simultaneously in English and in Welsh.

Luke Kennard has published five collections of poetry. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2005 for his collection, The Solex Brothers, and The Harbour Beyond the Movie was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2007. His novella, Holophin was published by Penned in the Margins in 2012 and his first novel The Transition was published by Fourth Estate in January 2017.  In 2014 Luke was selected by the Poetry Book Society as one of the Next Generation poets, and was 2016 Canal Laureate for the Poetry Society. He lives in Bournville and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

Fiona McFarlane was born in 1978 in Sydney, Australia, and holds a PhD from Cambridge University and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Zoetrope: All-Story, The Missouri Review, and The Best Australian Stories, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Australian Council for the Arts.  Her debut novel, The Night Guest, was the winner of the inaugural Voss Literary Prize and the 2014 Barabara Jefferis Award, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Guardian First Book Award, the Prime Minister’s literary Award, the Stella Prize, and the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, and has been the Writer in residence at the Gladstone Library and the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague.  Her first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, was longlisted for the Guardian’s First Book Award and the Folio Prize, and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award in 2014. She currently lives in Norwich.

Callan Wink was born in Michigan in 1984. His work has been published in The New YorkerMen’s Journal, Granta, and The Best American Short Stories.  He graduated from Montana State in Bozeman before pursuing an MFA at the University of Wyoming, and spending his summers as a fishing guide on the Yellowstone River. These days he splits his years between the two – guiding during the summer fishing season and writing the rest of the year.