Wales’ £20,000 Dylan Thomas Prize Names Its 2024 Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The six-title shortlist for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize includes five works published by independent presses this year.

The six writers shortlisted for the 2024 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize are, top row from left, Ayòbámi Adébáyò (image: Emmanuel Iduma); Caleb Azumah Nelson; and AK Blakemore (image: Alice Zoo). And on the lower row from left are Mary Jean Chan; Joshua Jones (image: Nik Roche); and Catherine Lacey (image: Willy Somma).

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

A Diversity of Locations and Genres
As the book and publishing contests pump out their springtime long- and shortlists, today’s news comes from Wales where the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize has today (March 21) rolled out its 2024 shortlist of six titles.

The titles chosen by the jury are published primarily by independent houses this time, including Cardigan’s Parthian Books, as well as Faber & Faber, Canongate, and Granta. One of the six shortlisted titles comes from Penguin Random House UK.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, this £20,000 (US$25,328) Dylan Thomas Prize is an 18-year-old program for writers who are 39 or younger, because its namesake, Dylan Thomas, died at age 39 in November of 1953. The 2023 cycle included an observation of the 70th anniversary of Thomas’ death.

While the Dylan Thomas accepts submissions in poetry, fiction, short stories, and drama, only one shortlisted work is a poetry collection, and organizers point out that the group of six shortlisted works features only one debut publication, the short-story collection Local Fires by Joshua Jones—the work published by local publisher Parthian.

Here’s the suite of six works in the shortlist, with a winner’s announcement expected in Swansea—Thomas’ hometown, of course—on May 14.

The 2024 Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist

  •   A Spell of Good Things by Ayòbámi Adébáyò (Canongate Books); novel, Nigeria
  •   Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Penguin Random House UK / Viking); novel, United Kingdom and Ghana
  •   The Glutton by A. K. Blakemore (Granta): novel, United Kingdom
  •   Bright Fear by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber): poetry collection, Hong Kong
  •   Local Fires by Joshua Jones (Parthian Books): short story collection, United Kingdom
  •   Biography of X by Catherine Lacey (Granta): novel, United States

A shortlist is anticipated on March 21 and the winner’s announcement should arrive on May 16 following the May 14 observation of International Dylan Thomas Day.

Passed up in this shortlist is Michael Magee’s Close to Home from Penguin Random House UK / Hamish Hamilton, one of four shortlisted works at the Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award which only on Wednesday announced that Tom Crewe is its winner for The New Life (Penguin Random House UK/Vintage).

The significance there is that the Dylan Thomas and the Young Writer programs run fairly neck-and-neck for the 30-something aged talent, the Sunday Times’ Young Writer contest going a few years younger than the Dylan Thomas, with its ceiling at 35 years.

Jurors for the 2024 Award Cycle

Jurors this year are  writer and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale again as chair, with:

  • Creative Writing instructor at Swansea University Jon Gower
  • Winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2022 and Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin Seán Hewitt
  • Former BBC Gulf correspondent and author of Telling Tales: An Oral History of Dubai Julia Wheeler
  • Interdisciplinary artist and author of Keeping the HouseTice Cin.

Namita Gokhale

Gokhale is quoted, saying that the award “has an important role to play in recognizing, supporting, and nurturing young writers across a rich diversity of locations and genres.

“The 2024 shortlist has authors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Nigeria, and Ghana, and it has been a truly rewarding adventure to immersively read through this creative spectrum of voices.”

That May 16 date for the winner’s announcement will, as is the tradition, follow the May 15 Dylan Thomas Day.

In Dylan Thomas’ Swansea, on Langland Bay, a March sunrise. Image – Getty iStockphoto: StephM2506

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is here, more on Wales’ book and publishing market is here, and more on world literary and 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 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 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.