Akwaeke Emezi and Raven Leilani are on the longlist of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 announced today, January 21, 2020.
Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer who became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death at the age of 39. In his honour, the International Dylan Thomas Prize aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide was set up by the Swansea University. The £20,000 Prize is awarded annually to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under.
Past winners of the award included Fiona McFarlane, Max Porter, Joshua Ferris, Claire Vaye Watkins, Maggie Shipstead, and Rachel Trezise. In 2018, Kayo Chingonyi went home with the honours for his poetry collection Kumukanda.
The judging panel for the prize this year is chaired by award-winning writer, publisher and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale alongside founder and director of the Bradford Literature Festival, Syima Aslam, poet Stephen Sexton, writer Joshua Ferris and novelist and academic Francesca Rhydderch.
The longlist shared today has nine novels, two poetry collections and one short story collection. The full list is below with the African/Black writers in bold;
- Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat (Picador) – short story collection
- Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante (Chatto & Windus) – poetry collection
- If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (Viking, Penguin Random House UK) – novel
- Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel
- Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – novel
- The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber) – novel
- Rendang by Will Harris (Granta) – poetry collection
- 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 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Picador) – novel
- My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel
Akwaeke Emezi is a writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. A 2018 National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35’ honoree, their debut novel Freshwater was longlisted for both the Women’s Prize for Fiction and for the Wellcome Book Prize. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, among others. Their first novel for young adults, Pet, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Emezi’s most recent novel, The Death of Vivek Oji was a New York Times bestseller on publication in 2020. Emezi’s writing has appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, BuzzFeed and The Cut, among other publications.
Raven Leilani’s work has been published in Granta, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. She received her MFA from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel.
The shortlist announcement will take place on 25 March, with the winner revealed on 13 May, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.