The international longlist for one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – has been announced. From Sri Lanka to Trinidad, Texas, and Ireland via the Middle East, this year’s longlist features a powerful, international collection of writers who are offering platforms for under-represented voices.
This year’s longlist celebrates female voices from around the world and includes: the gritty debut novel by interdisciplinary London artist Tice Cin titled Keeping the House, American novelist Patricia Lockwood’s meditation on love, language and human connection in No One is Talking About This, Dantiel W. Moniz’s debut collection of short intergenerational stories in Milk Blood Heat that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all, British writer Fiona Mozley’s urban comedy Hot Stew, the honest and darkly funny debut novel Acts of Desperation by emerging star of Irish literature Megan Nolan, and British-born Prague-based Helen Oyeyemi’s exploration of what it means to be seen by another person in Peaces.
There are also two female poets up for the £20,000 Prize including Desiree Bailey for her lyrical quest for belonging and freedom in What Noise Against the Cane as she draws on her cultural identity and upbringing in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Indian-born Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe whose first poetry collection Auguries of a Minor God follows two different journeys, the first of love and the wounds it makes and the second following a family of refugees who have fled to the West from conflict in an unspecified Middle Eastern country.
The debut novelist line-up is further completed by the contemporary classic The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris who fuses together historical fiction and the complex reality of society today, and the achingly beautiful love story Open Water (now sold in 13 territories worldwide) by 25-year-old British-Ghanaian writer Caleb Azumah Nelson who shines a light on race and masculinity. Additionally among the 12 authors on the 2022 longlist are Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasam for his masterful novel, A Passage North, which explores age and youth, loss and survival in the wake of the devastation of Sri Lanka's 30-year civil war and Brandon Taylor’s Filthy Animals that brings together quietly devastating stories of young people caught up in violence and desire, while longing for intimacy.
Chaired by co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and award-winning author Namita Gokhale, the longlisted titles will now be whittled down to a six strong shortlist by an impressive panel of judges including novelist, playwright, and winner of the 2006 Dylan Thomas Prize Rachel Trezise, celebrated Poet and novelist Luke Kennard who recently won the 2021 Forward poetry prize, novelist and Swansea University lecturer Alan Bilton, and Nigerian British author Irenosen Okojie who was awarded an MBE For Services to Literature in 2021.
Through themes of identity, conflict and love, this year’s longlist comprises eight novels, two poetry collections and two short story collections:
- A Passage North – Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta)
- What Noise Against the Cane – Desiree Bailey (Yale University Press)
- Keeping the House – Tice Cin (And Other Stories)
- Auguries of a Minor God – Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe (Faber)
- The Sweetness of Water – Nathan Harris (Tinder Press/Headline)
- No One is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus)
- Milk Blood Heat – Dantiel W. Moniz (Atlantic Books)
- Hot Stew – Fiona Mozley (John Murray Press)
- Open Water – Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking, Penguin General)
- Acts of Desperation – Megan Nolan (Jonathan Cape)
- Peaces - Helen Oyeyemi (Faber)
- Filthy Animals – Brandon Taylor (Daunt Books Publishing)
Worth £20,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.
On receiving the 2021 award for her ‘fearless’ debut Luster, Raven Leilani said: ‘Very early in my life, Dylan Thomas’ work was an enormous comfort and inspiration to me, so this is an incredible honor and affirmation. When I first encountered his work, I was around twelve and just starting to write, and I remember taking one of his collections home from the library and trying emulate his rhythm. I still have diaries full of those attempts, and I want to thank the judges, the readers, my family and friends, and my brilliant colleagues at Picador and Trident for their support. It means everything to me.’
The shortlist will be announced on the 31st March followed by the Winner’s Ceremony held in Swansea on 12th May, two days before International Dylan Thomas Day.