The shortlist of seven works for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize, the world’s biggest literary prize for young writers, was announced in the poet’s home town of Swansea - in his centenary year - on the evening of Thursday 4 September.
This year’s shortlist includes poetry, prose and drama, and is extremely international, with writers drawing on a rich mix of background influences: Wales, England, Ireland, Jamaica, the United States, Russia and New Zealand. It was announced by musician and radio presenter Cerys Matthews, one of the judges for the Prize.
The £30,000 Prize, sponsored by Swansea University, is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence across all genres and is open to novels, short stories, poetry and drama.
The 2014 shortlist is:
• Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (Granta)
• Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking)
• Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (Faber & Faber)
• Kseniya Melnik, Snow in May (Fourth Estate)
• Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet Press)
• Owen Sheers, Mametz (National Theatre Wales)
• Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway (Picador)
The announcement was made at an event in Swansea, which was part of a major international conference of Dylan Thomas experts, Dylan Unchained, which is hosted by the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University.
Cerys Matthews said:
“This year’s list is truly delicious. It features international works across all genres – poetry, prose and drama – and has attracted young international writers of incredible talent. It is a delight to be part of the judging panel in this centenary year of Dylan Thomas’s birth.”
Peter Stead, founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, said:
“Given the strength of our longlist, we judges knew that choosing a shortlist would be a difficult process. In the end, seven wonderful works stood out.
We are thrilled that a play written and performed in Wales and a Caribbean poet from Glasgow will be gracing the shortlist which also consists of two American writers and novelists from Ireland, England and New Zealand.
Several of the books on the shortlist have already been honoured and this indicates the extent to which the International Dylan Thomas Prize has earned its place at the forefront of world literature.
We will be inviting to Swansea seven of the best writers in the world.”
Judging Panel: International Dylan Thomas Prize 2014
• Peter Florence, Founder of the Hay Festival and Chairman of the judging panel
• Tishani Doshi, writer and dancer
• Prof Kurt Heinzelman, poet, translator and Professor of English, University of Texas
• Carolyn Hitt, journalist and author
• Cerys Matthews, Author, singer and BBC 6 music presenter
• Allison Pearson, novelist and Daily Telegraph columnist
• Peter Stead, Founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize
• Nicholas Wroe, Guardian Review journalist
Authors’ biographical information
Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand.
She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches creative writing at Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland.
Her debut novel The Rehearsal (2008) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her second novel, The Luminaries, won the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award.
Joshua Ferris was born in Illinois in 1974.
In addition to To Rise Again At A Decent Hour, he is the author of two previous novels: Then We Came to the End, which was nominated for the National Book Award, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and the highly acclaimed The Unnamed.
In 2010 Joshua Ferris was selected for The New Yorker's '20 Under 40' list of fiction writers. He lives in New York.
Eimear McBride was born in 1976 and grew up in the west of Ireland. In 1994, aged seventeen, she went to London and spent the next three years studying acting at Drama Centre. Much of her twenties were spent temping and travelling.
At twenty-seven she wrote A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. It won the 2013 Goldsmiths Prize, was shortlisted for the 2014 Folio Prize and won the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Eimear moved to Cork in 2006, and Norwich in 2011, where she still lives with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on her second novel.
Kseniya Melnik was born in Magadan in the northeast of Russia and immigrated to Alaska in 1998, at the age of fifteen.
The New York Times said “Snow in May,” "takes us deep into the complex fabric of Magadan, an isolated fishing and mining town in the northern reaches of Russia that once served as a transit center for prisoners dispatched to Stalin’s labour camps."
She earned an MFA from New York University. Her work has appeared in Brooklyn Rail, Epoch, Prospect, Virginia Quarterly Review, and was selected for Granta's New Voices series. She lives in El Paso, Texas.
Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978.
His poetry has been shortlisted for awards such as the Jonathan Llewelyn Rhys Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year.
His fiction has been shortlisted for the Phyllis Wheatley Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First book and has won the Una Marson Prize. In 2013 the Caribbean Rhodes Trust named him the Rex Nettleford Fellow in Cultural Studies.
Owen Sheers has written two collections of poetry, The Blue Book and Skirrid Hill, which won a Somerset Maugham award.
His verse drama Pink Mist won Wales Book of the Year and the Hay Festival Poetry Medal. His non-fiction includes The Dust Diaries and Calon: A Journey to the Heart of Welsh Rugby. His first novel Resistance has been translated into ten languages and was made into a film in 2011. His plays include The Passion, The Two Worlds of Charlie F. and Mametz. Owen wrote and presented BBC Four's 'A Poet's Guide to Britain'. His second novel I Saw A Man will be published by Faber in 2015.
Naomi Wood was born in 1983 and lives in London.
She studied at Cambridge and at UEA for her MA in Creative Writing.
Originally from York, she has gone on to live in Hong Kong, Paris and Washington DC.
She is the author of The Godless Boys and Mrs. Hemingway.
- Friday 5 September 2014 15.35 BST
- Tuesday 6 December 2016 12.54 GMT
- RIAH, Swansea University