Five of the UK and Ireland’s best young writers have today been named on the shortlist for The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, now in association with the University of Warwick:
- Outlandish Knight – The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman by Minoo Dinshaw (Allen Lane)
- The End of the Day by Claire North (Orbit)
- The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico (Faber & Faber)
- Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
- The Lauras by Sara Taylor (Windmill)
The incomparable strength of this year’s list of submissions led the jury to make a rare exception, and shortlist five, rather than the usual four authors for the prize – four women and one man. This year the prize is being judged by the award-winning novelist and political commentator Elif Shafak and the acclaimed cultural historian and biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett alongside The Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate.
The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with the University of Warwick, rewards the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35.
Featuring three novels, a collection of short stories and a biography, the shortlist showcases the extraordinary breadth of young British and Irish writing: Minoo Dinshaw’s debut Outlandish Knight is the biography of a great and strange British historian; with the The End of the Day, Claire North has written a novel of life, death and everything in between; The Lucky Ones, Julianne Pachico’s debut collection of stories, mostly set in Columbia, brings together the fates of guerrilla soldiers, rich kids, rabbits and drug dealers; Conversations with Friends by Irish writer Sally Rooney has written an intimate story of high-risk relationships, youth and love; and The Lauras by Sara Taylor, whose first novel was shortlisted for the award in 2015, explores identity and relationships, set against a rolling backdrop of the North American landscape.
Elif Shafak said: ‘Our wonderful shortlist celebrates the depth and breadth of literature today, reflecting a striking diversity of styles, interests, genres and backgrounds. True, only one of these authors will win the prize in the end, but each of the five shortlisted books has already won our hearts, and we are confident that they will similarly win the hearts of readers worldwide.’
Lucy Hughes-Hallett said: ‘These authors are young, but they are already accomplished writers with strong and distinctive voices and impressive literary talents. Each of the five shortlisted books is a treat to read, buzzing with invention and intellectual energy. It's great that we can help them find a public.’
Andrew Holgate said: ‘The fact that the judges decided to nominate five instead of the usual four authors speaks volumes about the strength of this year's shortlist – diverse, adventurous, immensely mature and confident. The fact, too, that the voices we've picked come from such a range of backgrounds is a true endorsement of the confident, outward-looking nature of young British and Irish literature at the moment. We're going to have a very difficult task on our hands choosing a winner from such an exceptional shortlist.’
Since it began in 1991, the award has had a striking impact, boasting a stellar list of alumni that have gone on to become leading lights of contemporary literature. After a seven year break, it returned in 2015, awarding debut poet Sarah Howe the top prize for her phenomenal first collection, Loop of Jade, which then went on to win the T.S. Eliot Prize. Last year, Max Porter won for his experimental novel Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, which also took the Dylan Thomas Prize.
Generously sponsored by literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, the award has garnered attention and acclaim across the publishing industry and media for identifying the best young writers at work in Britain and Ireland today, providing support that lays the foundation for successful literary careers, and connecting new writers with new audiences. £5,000 is given to the overall winner and £400 to each of the four runners-up.
For the second year running, the award will be chronicled by an official shadow judging panel made up of some of the country’s leading book bloggers: Dane Cobain (socialbookshelves.com), Rebecca Foster (bookishbeck.wordpress.com), Elle Franzen (ellethinks.wordpress.com/), Annabel Gaskell (shinynewbooks.co.uk / gaskella.wordpress.com), and Clare Rowland (alittleblogofbooks.com). The panel will announce their winner on 29 November.
From 2017, the award is running in association with the University of Warwick, who are offering a bespoke 10-week residency for the award’s winner and a year-round programme of on-campus and digital support for award alumni and this year’s shortlist. To celebrate the partnership, the university is holding a free one-day festival of events and workshops, bringing together inspirational thinkers, authors, journalists and performers: freeflow will take place on Wednesday, 29 November. More information can be found at warwick.ac.uk/youngwriter.
Shortlisted authors will appear at a public event at Waterstones Trafalgar Square, The Grand Building, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5EJ, on Tuesday, 28 November.
The winner of The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2017, in association with the University of Warwick, will be announced at a reception at the London Library on Thursday, 7 December.
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