Wales’ Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 Longlist Includes Nine Debuts

In News by Porter Anderson

Among publishers, HarperCollins’ 4th Estate leads in this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize longlist, with three of the 12 titles announced today.

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

Twelve Titles Include Poetry, Novels, and Stories
Today (January 21), Swansea University’s Dylan Thomas Prize has announced its 2021 longlist of 12 titles. They include nine novels, two poetry collections, and one short story collection.

Dylan Thomas Prize logo 2020And reading that, you’ll immediately recall that one of the distinctions of this awards program is that it’s open to multiple formats.

It also is the prize that honors writers under 39 years of age because that’s the age at which the award program’s eponymous poet died.

This year—in which the Swansea campus is observing its centenary—the prize program’s purse quietly has changed from £30,000 for its winner to £20,000 (US$27,423). In answer to Publishing Perspectives’ question about this, a university spokesperson says, “This is a reflection of the financial challenges facing Swansea University, in common with the rest of the higher-education sector, while still a substantial award for young writers.”

The prize celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2020. Last year’s winner has become one of the most successful recent arrivals on the English-language young authors’ scene, the American writer Bryan Washington. His collection of short stories, Lot, was published in the UK in August by Atlantic Books, and was released on March 17 in the States by Penguin Random House’s Riverhead Books.

In the competitive world of publishing and book awards programs, the Dylan Thomas’ main competition for attention is the Young Writer of the Year program from the University of Warwick and the Sunday Times. Its age cutoff is 35, four years earlier than the Dylan Thomas.

With HarperCollins’ 4th Estate in the lead at three titles, Granta and Macmillan/FSG’s Picador each have two titles.

Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 Longlist

We have noted the publication debut works where they appear in the list.

  • Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat (Macmillan, FSG, Picador) – short story collection (debut)
  •  Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante (Chatto & Windus) – poetry collection (debut)
  • If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (Penguin Random House UK, Viking) – novel (debut)
  • Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel
  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – novel (debut)
  •  The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber & Faber) – novel          
  • Rendang by Will Harris (Granta) – poetry collection (debut)
  • The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes (Oneworld) – novel
  • Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel
  • Pew by Catherine Lacey (Granta) – novel
  • Luster by Raven Leilani (Macmillan, FSG, Picador) – novel (debut)
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel (debut)

The next news from this awards program is expected to relate to its plans to have a digital event at India’s Jaipur Festival, as it did last year, in part thanks to the arrival of Namita Gokhale—the Jaipur show’s co-director—on the jury.

Gokhale, who this year replaces Dai Smith as the longtime chair of the jury, will be joined by Syima Aslam, Stephen Sexton, Joshua Ferris, and Francesca Rhydderch.

A shortlist is expected on March 25 and a winner on May 13, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day. May 14 is the date on which Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at 92Y The Poetry Center in New York City in 1953.


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

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 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. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.