Debuts dominate Dylan Thomas book prize shortlist

The winner will be announced in May.
The winner will be announced in May.

Debut authors have dominated the shortlist for this year’s prestigious International Dylan Thomas Prize.

American-Ghanaian Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, British-Sri Lankan Guy Gunaratne and Zimbabwe-born Novuyo Rosa Tshuma are all in the running for the £30,000 prize for young writers.

Adjei-Brenyah is nominated for his short story collection Friday Black, which explores what it is like to grow up as a black male in America, while Gunaratne made the cut for In Our Mad And Furious City, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for a host of other accolades.

Tshuma made the list with her darkly humorous novel House Of Stone, about the death of colonial Rhodesia and the birth of modern Zimbabwe.

Joining them are Louisa Hall with Trinity, her novel on Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, Zoe Gilbert with Folk, about the fictional village of Neverness, and Sarah Perry with her latest bestseller, Melmoth. 

Professor Dai Smith, chairman of judges, said: “Yet again the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize has uncovered a wealth of new talent representing a group of contemporary and diverse voices from across the world.

“They are linked by a passion for individual sensibilities against a backdrop of history; sometimes violent, always life-changing.

“No doubt these six writers will go on to make their distinctive voices heard, contributing to that timeless canon of literature that entrances, challenges and provokes.”

The prize – named after Swansea-born writer Dylan Thomas – aims to support young writing talent from around the world.

It is awarded to the best published literary work of fiction in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. Thomas died at the age of 39.

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