Female and debut writers dominate the 2019 longlist for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize

A host of debut authors, including eight dynamic female writers and four critically acclaimed debut male voices, make up this year’s Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize longlist.

Costa Novel award-winner Sally Rooney, nurse turned debut novelist Emma Glass, Man Booker Prize longlisted debut author Guy Gunaratne, and breakout short story writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah are among the 12 authors on the longlist for the £30,000 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize.

The 12 longlisted titles will be judged by a panel chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE, with Professor Kurt Heinzelman, BBC broadcaster Di Speirs and award-winning novelist Kit de Waal.

Recognised for its celebration of experimental young voices in contemporary writing, this year’s longlist highlights the challenging world we live in. Topics tackled in the books include domestic violence, mental health, rape, racism, gender and identity.  

This year’s longlist comprises eight novels, two short story collections and two poetry collections:

  • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK)
  • Michael Donkor, Hold (4th Estate)
  • Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In (Influx Press)
  • Zoe Gilbert, Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Emma Glass, Peach (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline)
  • Louisa Hall, Trinity (Ecco)
  • Sarah Perry, Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People (Faber & Faber)
  • Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
  • Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Atlantic Books)
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)

The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize longlistAwarded 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. 

Launched in 2006, the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is the largest literary prize in the world for young writers. In 2019 Swansea University will be the first British University to launch an English module based solely on a literary prize, where students will examine the works longlisted for the Prize.

The judging panel is chaired by Professor Dai Smith CBE, 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 panel also features: poet, translator, and scholar, Professor Kurt Heinzelman; books editor of BBC Radio, Di Speirs and award-winning author and founding member of Leather Lane Writers and Oxford Narrative Group, Kit de Waal.

About the 2019 longlist, Professor Dai Smith of Swansea University, Chair of the judging panel, said: “The longlist of twelve for the 2019 Swansea University Dylan Thomas International Prize is a starburst of young literary talent. Writers from across the world, from diverse communities and backgrounds, tackle challenging subject matter in ways both unexpected and exhilarating, through short stories, novels or poetry, in folk tale or Gothic mode, with a contemporary scalpel or an historical viewfinder. The list is a treat! And, from the shortlist to come with the spring, an exciting and worthy overall winner to be found by my distinguished panel of judges as summer opens up in May.”

The shortlist of six books will be revealed at the beginning of April.

The winner will be announced on Thursday 16 May at Swansea University’s Great Hall, just after International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May.

Last year, Zambian-born British poet Kayo Chingonyi won the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize for his critically-acclaimed debut poetry collection Kumukanda, a bold collection exploring black masculinity and rites of passage for young black men in Britain today.

On winning, Kayo Chingonyi said: “I’m staggered. It’s wonderful to receive an award in the name of Dylan Thomas, whose work was introduced to me by an inspirational teacher by the name of Rachel Baroni who introduced me to Under Milk Wood and I’ve been fascinated by his work since then…”