Former Creative Writing student named on PEN International/ New Voices Award longlist

The 2015 PEN International/ New Voices Award longlist has been announced – and it includes Wales PEN Cymru’s nominee Rebecca F John, a former Swansea University student, and the only UK writer to have made the longlist.

The PEN International/ New Voices Award provides a space for young and unpublished writers to promote their work, and encourages new writing from 'diverse linguistic regions and communities'.

The award is open to unpublished writers aged 18-30, who are nominated by their local PEN Centre. This year’s judges are Zakariya Amataya, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, Edwige-Renée Dro, Drago Jančar, Yann Martel and Olga Tokarczuk. 

The 2015 PEN International/New Voices Award longlist:

  • Likkewaan by Carien Smith (PEN Afrikaans)
  • Under the Jacaranda Tree by Nozizwe Dube (PEN Flanders)
  • Nichts kurz vor der Rue Saint-Blaise by Lea Sauer (German PEN)
  • Ailleurs by Sophie Prévost (PEN Québec)
  • Varshava by Ana Dontsu (PEN Romania)
  • Moon Dog by Rebecca F John (Wales PEN Cymru)

Rebecca JohnCarmarthenshire-born Rebecca (pictured left), who gained a distinction for her MA in Creative Writing in 2012 from the College of Arts and Humanities, has already experienced great success this year, following her shortlisting for the Sunday Times EFG Short story award, where she appeared alongside the likes of Yiyun Li and Madeleine Thien.

This also is encouraging news for the newly-founded Wales PEN Cymru, in their first year as an official centre. Dr Fflur Dafydd, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in Swansea University, and Co-chair of PEN Cymru, said: “I am delighted to see Wales represented on the international stage by such a gifted young writer. Wales PEN Cymru prides itself on enabling Welsh writers to discover and develop an international voice, and Rebecca has a strong, unique writing style, which undoubtedly takes Wales to the world. We look forward to working with her and supporting her career.”  

Rebecca herself added: “I am thrilled to be representing Wales PEN Cymru in this worthy competition, and hope that I can make the shortlist in order to better play my own small part in highlighting the values PEN works to promote and defend; values which are integral to us as writers and as human beings.”

Swansea University's Professor in Creativity, and Co-chair of PEN Cymru, Owen Sheers, said: "It’s wonderful, in Wales PEN Cymru’s first year as a PEN centre, to see Rebecca’s name representing Wales on the long list of such an international and high-profile competition. PEN is all about local voices contributing to the international conversation and Rebecca is a great example of such a voice, this long listing, following her previous successes, further establishing her as a writer to watch on the world stage."

The shortlist of three will be announced in a few weeks, and the award will be presented on October 14 during the 81st PEN International Congress in Québec, Canada.

The 2014 PEN International/ New Voices Award winner was Marina Babanskaya (St Petersburg PEN Chapter), while Masande Ntshanga won the 2013 edition, which was the start of a very promising writing career for the young South African.