Wales’ International Dylan Thomas Prize Announces Its 2019 Longlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The award program, based at Swansea University in the poet’s hometown, presents a 12-title longlist by authors 39 and younger.

The 12-title longlist for the 2019 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A Starburst of Young Literary Talent’
Eight novels, two short story collections, and two poetry collections make up the 12 longlisted titles in the 2019 International Dylan Thomas Prize, which has announced the list this morning (January 31).

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, Wales’ Swansea University (Prifysgol Abertawe) International Dylan Thomas Prize classifies itself as the largest in the world for younger writers, worth £30,000 (US$39,392) to its winner. This year, the seaside university that administers the prize will open a curriculum offering based on the study of the contemporary works longlisted for the award.

That list this year features eight women among its 12 writers. Eight of the longlisted authors, including all four of the men, are honored for their debut efforts, one of which is a poetry collection.

The prize is awarded for a published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or younger. Dylan Thomas, born in Swansea, died, of course, at age 39.

A fixture on so many awards lists, Ireland’s Sally Rooney is listed this year for her Normal People (Faber & Faber), as is London native Guy Gunaratne, who was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his debut In Our Mad and Furious City (Headline/Tinder Press).

International Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist 2019

  • Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, US; Riverrun, UK))
  • Michael Donkor, Hold (4th Estate)
  • Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In (Influx Press)
  • Zoe Gilbert, Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Emma Glass, Peach ((Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Headline/Tinder Press)
  • Louisa Hall, Trinity (Ecco)
  • Sarah Perry, Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People (Faber & Faber)
  • Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
  • Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Atlantic Books)
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)
‘Challenging Subject Matter’

Jurors for the program are again this year led by Swansea’s Dai Smith, who holds the university’s Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales.

Smith is joined on the jury by:

  • Poet, translator, and scholar Kurt Heinzelman
  • BBC Radio books editor Di Spiers
  • Author and founding member of Leather Lane Writers and Oxford Narrative Group Kit de Waal

In a prepared statement for today’s announcement of the longlist, Smith is quoted, saying:

Dai Smith

“The longlist of 12 [titles] for the 2019 Swansea University Dylan Thomas International Prize is a starburst of young literary talent.”Writers from across the world, from diverse communities and backgrounds, tackle challenging subject matter in ways both unexpected and exhilarating, through short stories, novels or poetry, in folk tale or Gothic mode, with a contemporary scalpel or an historical viewfinder. …

“And, from the shortlist to come with the spring, an exciting and worthy overall winner to be found by my distinguished panel of judges as summer opens up in May.”

Topics featured in the longlisted works this year include domestic violence, mental health, rape, racism, gender and identity, according to media messaging, with a shortlist expected from the jury in early April.

As is the custom of the prize, which was founded in 2006, the winner will be announced on May 16 at Swansea University’s Great Hall, just after International Dylan Thomas Day (May 14).

Last year’s winner of the Dylan Thomas was the Zambian-British poet Kayo Chingonyi’s Kumukanda, a debut collection of poetry exploring black masculinity and rights of passage for young black men in contemporary UK social dynamics.

In describing the work, Smith is quoted, saying, “Kayo Chingonyi has an original and distinctive voice and this collection, mature and moving, shows a young poet mastering form in various ways to reveal content which is both personal and immensely relevant to the social dilemmas of Britain today.”

Authors longlisted for the 2019 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize are, top row from left, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Michael Donkor, Clare Fisher, Zoe Gilbert; middle row from left, Emma Glass, Guy Gunaratne, Louisa Hall, Sarah Perry; and on the bottom row from left, Sally Rooney, Richard Scott, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, and Jenny Xie


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is here. And more on publishing awards is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.