The UK and Ireland’s most influential award for young writers, The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award today announces an exceptional panel of judges for its third year with sponsor the Charlotte Aitken Trust.
Thomas-Corr is joined by the Booker-winning writer and novelist Anne Enright, novelist and critic Mendez, author and critic James McConnachie, poet Daljit Nagra and novelist Catriona Ward. The panel will decide who will follow last year’s winner of the prize, Tom Benn (Oxblood).
Johanna Thomas-Corr said: “I’m so delighted to have such an exceptionally accomplished and interesting panel of judges, perhaps the strongest we have ever assembled. Anne, Mendez, James, Daljit and Cat bring such a broad range of knowledge and experience to the task that I just know we’re going to uncover some really brilliant new writers – and have a lot of lively discussion too!”
With Cal Flyn, Jay Bernard, Raymond Antrobus, Adam Weymouth, Sally Rooney, Max Porter and Sarah Howe as recent winners, the prize has spotted and supported an exceptional line-up of defining new voices since returning from a 7-year break in 2015, and its alumni list is a who’s who of the best in British and Irish writing – from Robert Macfarlane to Zadie Smith, from Sarah Waters to Simon Armitage, from Naomi Alderman to Caryl Phillips and many others.
Sponsored by the Charlotte Aitken Trust, who joined the prize in 2021, the award is given annually to the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author of 35 or under. Administered by the Society of Authors, the award works with a growing network of partners to provide a critical support system to the very best talent at work right now. Submissions close on Thursday 14 September 2023.
As it launches its upcoming season, the award is working to extend its partnership network across the literary world. In its first year as the new sponsor, the Charlotte Aitken Trust increased the prize sum to £10,000 with each shortlistee receiving £1,000. This prize money will remain as part of the winner package for 2023.
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About The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award | Founded in 1991, the award recognises the best literary work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer of 35 and under. £10,000 is given to the winner, and £1,000 to each of the runners-up. The award was suspended in 2008, but was revitalised in 2015 with the help of the literary agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop, building on the remarkable legacy of the prize by introducing two significant and exciting innovations: extending its reach by including writers from Ireland and including self-published works as well as those from publishers – putting the prize in tune with the changing landscape of British publishing. In 2019, after two years as associate sponsor, the University of Warwick assumed the title partnership of the prize. As of June 2021, the prize is sponsored by the Charlotte Aitken Trust. www.youngwriteraward.com
About the Charlotte Aitken Trust | The Charlotte Aitken Trust is a registered charity funded by money left for the purpose by the leading literary agent Gillon Aitken (1938-2016), formerly chairman of Aitken Alexander Associates. The Trust is named in memory of his daughter Charlotte, who died in 2011 at the age of 27. The Charlotte Aitken Trust aims to continue Gillon’s work of encouraging literary talent and aims to advance the education of the public in the subject of literature; and to promote the creative arts for the public benefit, especially literature, whether fiction, non-fiction, drama or poetry. The Trust expects to award prizes, grants and scholarships, either in programmes developed by the trustees or in partnership with existing schemes. A first grant was made in October 2020 in support of the Brontë Society, which operates the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth, Yorkshire. In May 2021, the Trust announced support of a Young Vic/Headlong co-production, ‘Best of Enemies’, a new play by Olivier Award-winner James Graham, directed by Jeremy Herrin. The Charlotte Aitken Trust is now the sponsor of The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award.
About The Sunday Times | The Sunday Times, founded in 1822, is one of the best-known news brands in the world and the UK’s top-selling quality Sunday paper. It has always been relied upon to challenge, entertain, inspire, and inform its readers. It celebrated its 200th year edition in October 2022 and has won a clutch of awards for its Insight team investigations unit, its foreign reporting and its magazine features and interviews, in particular. At the 2022 Press Club Awards The Sunday Times won Sunday Newspaper of the Year.
About The Society of Authors | The Society of Authors is the UK trade union for all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. They have more than 11,500 members and have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. In 2021, they awarded over £900,000 in grants and prizes (for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translation). In all the Society of Authors administers twenty-one prizes, including The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award.
Notes to Editors
Anne Enright is one of Ireland’s leading writers. The author of eight novels, two books of short stories and many essays, she is a winner of the Man Booker Prize (2007) and the Irish novel of the year (2007 and 2015). Anne was the first Laureate for Irish Fiction (2015-2018) and she teaches creative writing as Professor of Fiction in UCD. Her new novel The Wren, The Wren is just out.
Mendez (they/them) is a London-based novelist and critic. Their debut novel, Rainbow Milk, was published in 2020 and shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. Their essays and reviews have appeared in the London Review of Books, Poetry Foundation, Attitude and the Guardian. They are currently working on their second novel.
James McConnachie is an author and critic. He reviews non-fiction for The Sunday Times and edits The Author, the journal of the Society of Authors. His books include a history of the Kamasutra, The Book of Love, and the Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories. He is currently writing a biography of a Himalayan mountain.
Daljit Nagra is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, Council of Society of Authors, a PBS New Generation Poet, presenter of the weekly Poetry Extra on Radio 4 Extra, Daljit Nagra, MBE, has published four poetry collections, all with Faber & Faber, which have won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and Best First Collection, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award, and been shortlisted for the Costa Prize and twice for the TS Eliot Prize.
Johanna Thomas-Corr is the literary editor of The Sunday Times. She has been a reviewer for the paper since 2019 and was previously a contributing writer for the New Statesman. She has written extensively for the Times, Observer, Financial Times and Evening Standard. She judged the Goldsmiths Prize for Fiction in 2021. This is her second year of judging the Young Writer of the Year award.
Catriona Ward is an American and British novelist. Her fifth novel, Looking Glass Sound was published in April 2023 and was an immediate USA Today bestseller. She has previously won the International Thriller Writers Association Award, August Derleth Prize (the only woman to have won the prize three times) and Shirley Jackson Award. Her books have been chosen by USA Today, CNN, Apple Books and the Guardian as books of the year, and her third novel The Last House on Needless Street is being developed for film by Andy Serkis’s production company.
Past winners are: Tom Benn, Oxblood (2022); Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment (2021); Jay Bernard, Surge (2020); Raymond Antrobus, The Perseverance (2019); Adam Weymouth, Kings of the Yukon (2018); Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends (2017); Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers (2016); Sarah Howe, Loop of Jade (2015); Ross Raisin, God’s Own Country (2009); Adam Foulds, The Truth About These Strange Times (2008); Naomi Alderman, Disobedience (2007), Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination (2004); William Fiennes, The Snow Geese (2003); Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2001); Sarah Waters, Affinity (2000); Paul Farley, The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (1999); Patrick French, Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division (1998); Francis Spufford, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination (1997); Katherine Pierpoint, Truffle Beds (1996); Andrew Cowan, Pig (1995); William Dalrymple, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (1994); Simon Armitage, Kid (1993); Caryl Phillips, Cambridge (1992); and Helen Simpson, Four Bare Legs in a Bed and Other Stories (1991).