Wales, India and the world - Tishani Doshi joins judges for International Dylan Thomas Prize

The International Dylan Thomas Prize, the world’s largest literary prize for young writers, is to welcome Tishani Doshi, an award-winning writer and dancer of Welsh-Gujarati descent, as a judge for this year’s competition.

Tishani Doshi, (pictured) who is appearing at next week’s Hay Festival, is the author of four books of poetry and fiction. Her most recent books include Fountainville (Seren), a retelling of a myth from the Mabinogion, and a collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere.

600 x 400Her appointment to the judging panel shows the global reach of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, which was launched in 2006.  Sponsored by Swansea University, the Prize is aimed at encouraging creative talent worldwide.  Previous winners have hailed from the US, Australia, Vietnam, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Tishani’s debut collection of poems, Countries of the Body, won the prestigious Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2006.   Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was published to critical acclaim by Bloomsbury in 2010 and translated into several languages.

Dylan Thomas Prize logoTishani has worked in India, USA and London and written for publications including The Guardian, New York Times, India Today, and Elle.  Her rich cultural background can also be seen in her dancing career.  She says it started with choreographing a dance routine to Abba’s The Winner Takes it All, and it now sees her travel the world with Indian dance group Chandralekha.

Tishani Doshi said:

"It's an honour to be a judge for a prize that invites writers from all the 'ugly, lovely' towns of the world.

‌The International Dylan Thomas Prize is the kind of prize all writers wish had been around when they were young. Rare in its intent to identify electrifying young talent, and utterly magnanimous in its scope, I'm delighted to be a part of this important centenary year."

Other judges for the 2014 Prize are

•    Peter Florence, Founder of the Hay Festival and Chairman of the judging panel
•    Cerys Matthews, Author, singer and BBC 6 music presenter
•    Alison Pearson, novelist and Daily Telegraph columnist
•    Carolyn Hitt, journalist and author
•    Nicholas Wroe, Guardian Review journalist
•    Peter Stead, Founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize
•    Prof Kurt Heinzelmann, poet, translator and Professor of English, University of Texas

400 x 318Picture:  Claire Vaye Watkins, winner of the 2013 Prize for her novel Battleborn

Peter Stead, founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, said:

“Dylan Thomas was the Swansea–born poet whose spell-binding words and performances conquered London and North America and identified him as one of the most influential writers of the mid twentieth century.

The Prize established in his name has captured the imagination of writers internationally and in recent years thirty short-listed writers from all continents have come to Wales to speak to students and writing classes. The Prize has been won by writers from Wales and Northern Ireland, a Vietnamese Australian and three Americans.”

Professor Richard B. Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, said:

“I am delighted that Swansea University is sponsoring the International Dylan Thomas Prize. It is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers in the world; international literary award aimed at encouraging creative talent worldwide.

The Prize also carries out extensive work with educational institutions, and we are proud to be associated with a project which helps promote creative writing to children and young people.

In the centenary year of Dylan Thomas’s birth, it is very fitting that the University in his home town should be supporting a Prize in his name.”

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The Hay Festival runs from 22 May to 1 June. 

Events featuring Swansea University experts include:

•    The Women in the Mabinogion:  Tishani Doshi and Fflur Dafydd;
•    Culture and Poverty:  Rachel Trezise, Prof Dai Smith, and John Griffiths
•    For Nigel Jenkins 1949-2014: Menna Elfyn with D.J. Britton, Fflur Dafydd, Francesca Rhydderch, Ifor Thomas, Peter Finch, M Wynn Thomas, Daniel G Williams and Jon Gower