Meet some of the world’s most exciting young writers: Saba Sams, Warsan Shire, Sheena Patel, Sara Baume and Arinze Ifeakandu, in conversation with Max Liu.
The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.
The full shortlist includes three of the most talked-about British female authors writing about contemporary womanhood. Somali-British writer Warsan Shire, the world-famous poet behind Beyoncé’s features Lemonade and Black is King, pays homage to refugees, Black women and teenage girls in her debut collection, Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head. Sheena Patel offers a piercing critique of social media and heteronormative relationships in her era-defining debut novel I’m a Fan; and Saba Sams is recognised for her tender and witty Send Nudes – a short story collection which highlights the confusing double standards facing women today.
From Ireland comes Sara Baume, nominated for her poetic third novel Seven Steeples, which depicts a couple escaping into the wilds of South-West Ireland. Australia’s Robbie Arnott has been nominated for his spellbinding third novel Limberlost, which transports readers to the folkloric setting of the Tasmanian wilderness. The final contender for this year’s prize is Nigeria’s Arinze Ifeakandu, who makes a confident debut with his exquisite short story collection, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things – exploring what it means to be a queer male in his home country.
Meet some of the shortlisted writers in this celebratory evening chaired by Max Liu.
Sheena Patel is a writer and assistant director for film and TV who was born and raised in North West London. She is part of the 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE collective, has been published in 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE (Rough Trade Books) and a poetry collection of the same name (FEM Press). In 2022 she was chosen as one of the Observer’s Top 10 best debut novelists. This is her first book.
Sara Baume’s novels have won awards such as the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Rooney Prize for Literature and the E.M. Forster Award. In 2020 her non-fiction debut, Handiwork, was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize and in 2022 her third novel, Seven Steeples, was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize. She is based in West Cork where she works also as a visual artist. She is one of Granta’s new list of the 20 most significant British novelists aged under 40.
Arinze Ifeakandu was born in Kano, Nigeria. An AKO Caine Prize for African Writing finalist and A Public Space Writing Fellow, he is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is pursuing his PhD at Florida State University. His work has appeared in A Public Space, One Story, and Guernica. God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is his first book.
Saba Sams has been published in the Stinging Fly, Granta and Five Dials, among others. She was shortlisted for the White Review Short Story Prize in 2019. Send Nudes won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2022, and ‘Blue 4eva’ won the BBC National Short Story Award 2022. Saba has just been announced by Granta as one of its 20 most significant British novelists aged under 40.
Warsan Shire is a Somali British writer born in Nairobi and raised in London. She was the first Young Poet Laureate of London. Shire wrote the poetry for the Peabody Award–winning visual album Lemonade and the Disney film Black Is King in collaboration with Beyoncé. She also wrote the short film Brave Girl Rising, highlighting the voices of Somali girls in Africa’s largest refugee camp. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is Shire’s full-length debut poetry collection.
Max Liu has reviewed books and interviewed authors for the i, the Financial Times and other national newspapers as well as contributing to Open Book and Front Row on BBC Radio 4. He was on the judging panel for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize in 2020.
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