Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Dylan Thomas Prize - shortlist announced

From left to right: Peter Stead (Welsh academic, historian and broadcaster), Peter Florence (Director of the Hay Festival and Chair of Judges), Caroline Bird, Edward Hogan and Miranda Sawyer (leading columnist for Vogue).

The Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist was announced today in London.
Six writers remain in competition for the prize. They are: London waiter Ross Raisin; 21-year old poet Caroline Bird, from Leeds, who is the youngest writer on the longlist; South African Harvard graduate Ceridwen Dovey; critically acclaimed Vietnamese writer Nam Le; Dinaw Mengestu, a journalist and novelist from Ethiopia; and Derby-born rising literary star Edward Hogan.

I caught up with Edward, who told me that he was delighted to be included in the shortlist for his debut novel, Blackmoor.

'It's wonderful to be on a shortlist with so much young talent. I'm also really looking forward to the opportunity to put something back into the writing community with educational outreach work in Wales'.

He added that he hoped that the shortlist would encourage people to read the books of all the nominees and draw attention to youthful talent.

Edward, 28, began writing seriously seven years ago, winning a literary prize from prestigious London agents David Higham Associates, which enabled him to pursue an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. He is the latest in a long line of success stories from the Creative Writing program in Norwich, which include Trezza Azzopardi and Owen Sheers.

The talents highlighted in this year's Dylan Thomas Prize long- and shortlist seem set to develop increasingly high profiles in the years to come. Look out for them.

The announcement of the winner will take place in Swansea, Dylan's hometown, on November 10. Good luck to all the contenders.


Anthony Brockway said...

Well congratulations to all of them, whoever they are. They must be good if their books are better than Joe Dunthorne’s Submarine, which I thought was an absolute belter. He had no chance, though, did he? If the first two Dylan Thomas Prizes had been awarded to Welsh authors there might have been accusations of a fix.

Kathryn Gray said...

While it would have been great to see both Zoe and Joe on the list, there are some excellent authors included to look out for.

I think suspicions of a fix are unfounded.

The prize was established with a mission to highlight youthful talent on an international scheme, with no specific bias, and, I think, both in its inaugural year and this year, it is doing a very fine job of that. Its credibility rests on judges being allowed to select the works which most appeal to them, regardless of their provenance. But, inevitably, literary prize judges' choices - whether for the DT Prize, the Booker, the Costa categories and so on - will never achieve universal consensus. This is, in part, what continues to make literary prizes so interesting.

Joe Dunthorne's Submarine is, indeed, a terrific debut, and I gather it's garnering him attention in the US, too (there's a glowing review in the New York Times). I am delighted for him. Equally, Zoe is a poet and, for that matter, critic, who has a very bright future ahead of her.

All writers long to win a major literary prize, but being noticed through long- and shortlists also plays a crucial part in developing careers and providing authors with some much-needed validation. It helps to sell books and build a profile for the author. There is a long-term and very meaningful value in that.