England’s Young Writer of the Year Award Names Its Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

This four-title shortlist for the Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Trust Young Writer of the Year Award is to yield a winner by mid-March.

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

Charlotte Aitken Trust Continues as Sponsor
The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award in London has announced a nicely disciplined four-title shortlist for its 2023 cycle, honoring writers aged 35 and younger. In an era of lengthening shortlists and super-infinite longlists, a selection of four books is admirable in its restraint alone.

The program has benefited from its sponsorship by the Charlotte Aitken Trust, the purses again being set at £10,000 (US$12,058) for the winner and £1,000 for each shortlisted author. In addition to the trust’s support, the program works with Waterstones as a retail partner, and with the British Council.

Publishing Perspectives understands that the program is looking to extend its partnership network. Waterstones’ support, for example, is expected to include a competition in its consumer-facing newsletter.

This award’s nearest competitor for press attention, as you’ll remember, is Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Prize, recipients of which are aged 39 or younger, with its winner’s purse of £20,000 (US$24,116).

Again this year, Andrew Holgate—former literary editor of the Sunday Times—leads the jury. He’s joined by:

  • Johanna Thomas-Corr, the Sunday Times’ new literary editor
  • Journalist Stig  Abell
  • Poet Mona Arshi
  • Author Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Author Francis Spufford, a former winner of the Young Writer of the Year honor

A winner’s announcement is anticipated on March 14.

The 2023 Young Writer Of the Year Shortlist

The shortlisted authors for the 2023 Young Writer of the Year Award are, from left, Tom Benn (image: Beth Moseley); Katherine Rundell (image: Kate Subin); Lucie Burns (image: Sophie Davidson); and Maddie Mortimer (image: Ben Mankin)

Johanna Thomas-Corr

In comments about the shortlist, Thomas-Corr is quoted, saying, “You can’t help but admire four young writers who have taken huge risks with style, subject, and form and who have set themselves free of publishing conventions.

“All of them have taken on unpromising subjects and produced works of great beauty and generosity that refuse to be bent into shape.

“These are books that you can read again and again–and still feel rewarded.”

Andrew Holgate

Holgate says, “Four very strong voices and four immensely powerful books.

“This is a terrific shortlist, one that more than lives up to the great traditions of this prize and its mission to find and spotlight distinctive new voices that will flourish in the future.

“I feel very confident about the way forward for all of these authors, and choosing between them for the winner is going to be extremely difficult.”

In coming weeks, Granta is expected to publish extracts from these four shortlisted books at Granta.com.

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book prizes is here, more on the Young Writer Award is here, more on the Dylan Thomas Prize is here, and more from us on the United Kingdom’s market 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 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 was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.