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Dylan Thomas Prize longlist includes South Asian voices

The 2022 Dylan Thomas Prize announced last night celebrates a diverse range of storytelling, both in genre and geography

The books in the longlist (Courtesy the Swansea University website)

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The longlist for the 2022 Dylan Thomas Prize was announced last night. One of the UK’s most recognised literary awards for young writers, Swansea University’s Dylan Thomas Prize looks at works in English, across genres, and written by authors from across the world, who are 39 years of age or younger. The winner is awarded £20,000.

A prominent South Asian voice who features in the longlist, is Anuk Arudpragasam, a Sri Lankan Tamil writer, whose book A Passage North, looks at growing up through the three-decade-long civil war in Sri Lanka. This was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2021.

Indian-born Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe’s debut poetry collection, Auguries of a Minor God also finds space in this long list. The collection’s first half is about love, and is written in five sections, inspired by the five arrows of the Hindu god of desire, Kama. The second section consists of a long narrative poem called ‘A is for [Arabs]’, and is an account of migration, home, and belonging. Another poetry collection, What Noise Against the Cane by Desiree Bailey, is a lyrical exploration into her cultural identity and upbringing in Trinidad and Tobago.

The last time South Asian voices and narratives found place in the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist was in 2020, with Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field and Meena Kandasamy's Exquisite Cadavers.

Another title of note in this list, which had also made it to the Booker 2021 shortlist, is No One is Talking About This, an experimental, debut novel by Patricia Lockwood. It flows as a stream of consciousness narrative of an unnamed protagonist and her relationships with an online platform called ‘the portal’.

The panel of judges, chaired by Namita Gokhale, novelist and founder-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, includes American novelist Maggie Shipstead (a 2012 winner of this prize as well as Booker 2021 shortlisted), British poet Luke Kennard, British academic and novelist Alan Bilton, and Nigerian-born short story writer Irenosen Okojie.

The panel will select six titles for the shortlist on March 31st; the winner will be announced on May 12th, two days before Dylan Thomas Day which is marked to celebrate the life and work of the 20th Century Welsh poet.

The full long list:

Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North

Desiree Bailey, What Noise Against the Cane

Tice Cin, Keeping the House

Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Auguries of a Minor God

Nathan Harris, The Sweetness of Water

Patricia Lockwood, No One is Talking About This

Dantiel W. Moniz, Milk Blood Heat

Fiona Mozley, Hot Stew

Caleb Azumah Nelson, Open Water

Megan Nolan, Acts of Desperation

Helen Oyeyemi, Peaces

Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals

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