Two Indian authors– Madhuri Vijay and Meena Kandasamy, have been featured in this year’s Longlist of the annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.
Also described as the world’s largest Literary Prize for young writers, the £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. It is one of UK’s most prestigious Literary prizes.
Launched in 2006, the annual Prize is aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide, and is named after the Swansea-born writer Dylan Thomas. This Literary Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.
Regarding the literary inspiration of this prize, the website states– “Dylan Thomas, the quintessential adolescent writer, was ideally suited to serve as an inspiration to young writers everywhere. The freshness and immediacy of his writing were qualities that he never lost. The Prize seeks to ensure that readers today will have the chance to savour the vitality and sparkle of a new generation of young writers.”
This year’s Longlist was announced live from the Jaipur Literature Festival, to celebrate 15 years of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.
The Longlist announcement reads– “This year’s Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist combines a rich, international collection of young, experimental writers who are offering platforms for under-represented voices and exploring pressing social and world themes across identity, culture and power.”
The Longlist comprises seven novels, three poetry collections and two short story collections. ‘The Far Field’ and ‘Exquisite Cadavers’ have featured among the 12 longlisted titles.
Madhuri Vijay’s ‘The Far Field’
“The Far Field” by Madhuri Vijay has been described by the Prize committee as– “an elegant, epic novel that follows one young woman’s search for a lost figure from her childhood, a journey that takes her from Southern India to Kashmir and to the brink of a devastating political and personal reckoning.”
This is Madhuri Vijay’s debut novel, who was born and raised in Bangalore. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, which is an American Literary Prize. She has also won three prestigious prizes for this book, which includes the JCB Prize for Literature, the Tata Literature Live First Book Award and Crossword Book Award for English Fiction in the Jury category. The book also made to the shortlist of the DSC Prize for Literature, which rewards the best writing about the South Asian region.
A review in The Guardian describes the book as– “a debut novel that balances the personal and the political with assurance.”
Meena Kandasamy’s ‘Exquisite Cadavers’
“Exquisite Cadavers” by Chennai-born poet, fiction writer, translator and activist Meena Kandasamy is a novel about a young couple navigating love in London. The prize committee described the book as– “a literary hall of mirrors about an author navigating the inspirations behind her work.”
Meena Kandasamy has published two collections of poetry, Touch (2006) and Ms. Militancy (2010), and the critically acclaimed novel, Gypsy Goddess. Her second novel, When I Hit You, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for fiction 2018.
About the book, a reviewer in India Today writes– “In fewer than 150 pages, Kandasamy shows us what it is to forge a worldview and moral philosophy as if from thin air, or rather from the act of reading and committing words to the page.”
The other longlisted books include ‘Surge’ by Jay Bernard, ‘Flèche’ by Mary Jean Chan, ‘Things we say in the Dark’ by Kirsty Logan, ‘Black Car Burning’ by Helen Mort, ‘Virtuoso’ by Yelena Moskovich, ‘Inland’ by Téa Obreht, ‘Stubborn Archivist’ by Yara Rodrigues Fowler, ‘If All the World and Love were Young’ by Stephen Sexton, ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong and ‘Lot’ by Bryan Washington.
The 12 longlisted titles will be judged by a bumper guest panel chaired by Swansea University’s Professor Dai Smith CBE, including Professor Kurt Heinzelman, Namita Gokhale, Lucy Caldwell, Bridget Minamore, Ian McMillan, and Max Liu.
The shortlist will be announced on 7 April, and the Winner’s Ceremony will be held in Swansea on International Dylan Thomas Day, 14 May.