"We read many books about identity, the body and inheritance, and we chose four especially searching and beautiful treatments of those themes..."Kate Clanchy, 2019 Judge on the shortlist
"Weymouth combines acute political, personal and ecological understanding, with the most beautiful writing reminiscent of a young Robert Macfarlane. "Andrew Holgate, The Sunday Times on 2018 winner Adam Weymouth
“Diamond-sharp prose with an affecting poetic pulse, and surging emotions that are perfectly tempered and managed. This is a writer bursting with originality.”
"Our wonderful shortlist celebrates the depth and breadth of literature today, reflecting a striking diversity of styles, interests, genres and backgrounds."Elif Shafak, on the 2017 Shortlist
“One thing that stands out for me about the Young Writer of the Year Award is the breadth of the eligibility criteria: it usually makes for an eclectic shortlist, which is very welcome.”
“It’s important to support new voices because it’s hard to get published, because we need the energy, vitality and optimism that comes with your first novel or your first big win.”
“Writing requires an absurd degree of self belief. Usually it is only absurd people who have that self-belief, and they are not good writers. Talented people are often modest, so need much encouragement.”
“Whenever I’ve judged a competition, it’s forced me out of my comfort zone, got me reading the fiction and poetry and non-fiction I might not have picked up otherwise, seeing slices of worlds unlike mine. This should be especially true of reading new young writers.”
“ The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award is special because it looks to the future: we wanted to find a writer who both speaks for now and who we were confident would continue to produce valuable, central work. Raymond Antrobus’ s The Perseverance draws together the worlds of performance and page poetry and speaks for his Jamaican British heritage and his d/Deaf communities in a way that is completely contemporary; but it was the humanity of the book, its tempered kindness, and its commitment not just to recognising difference but to the difficult act of forgiveness that made us confident we had found a winner for this extraordinary year.”
“Raymond Antrobus takes us into a world unknown to most of us… a silent world where words have new meanings and often greater weight. He writes in a very personal way and one which really affects an open-hearted reader and I am excited about what he will write
in the future.”
“What ’s most impressive about Raymond’s book is the way he so subtly weaves his disparate themes together – about deafness, his Anglo-Carribean heritage, his relationship with his father – into a collection that is both very personal and immensely resonant. The result is a memoir in verse very, very affecting and fresh.”
“The shortlisted books take us from the Yukon river to Georgian London via the Yorkshire woods and the pages of literature; for all their variety, they are united in their qualities of ambition, insight, and ability to surprise. Most excitingly, they all come from writers at the start of their careers who allow us to close the pages of their books and think with wonder: ’This is only the beginning’.”
“Submissions to the prize were varied and the standard of both fiction, non-fiction and poetry was high. This shortlist represents unanimous choices: two brilliant but very different novels, and two works of non-fiction which also could not be less alike, but are both wonderfully well written and as absorbing and gripping as any thrillers. Selecting the winner is not going to be easy.”
“I’ve never seen such a strong and excited consensus among the judges for a winner. Weymouth combines acute political, personal and ecological understanding, with the most beautiful writing reminiscent of a young Robert Macfarlane. He more than holds his own among the award’s illustrious list of past winners, and I’m thrilled that the prize is able to give him some of the exposure he so clearly deserves. He is, I have no doubt, a significant voice for the future.”
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
“After the outstanding shortlist we came up with in 2015 for the relaunched Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, I was, frankly, nervous about matching it this year. But I needn’t have worried. This is a sensationally strong list of books and writers, all of whom have a real future in literature, and any of whom as winner would stand comparison with the prize’s extraordinary list of past recipients.”
“These four authors have different voices, and they’re all original and powerful. No one could read this shortlist – whether one of the novels, the poems or the short stories – without feeling the presence of that talent. It springs from the pages. When you close the books you know you’re going to pick them up again and you also know, with certainty, that these writers are going to weave a lot of magic in years to come.”
“From a strong long-list we have chosen four books, each with a distinctive and original voice. These books are not only complete and new in themselves; they also show potential for the development of the writer and the genre. That’s a privilege and a thrill.”
For the first time, 2016’s award was chronicled by an official shadow judging panel made up of some of the country’s leading book bloggers: Eric Karl Andersen (lonesomereader.com), Kim Forrester (readingmattersblog.com), Naomi Frisby (thewritesofwoman.wordpress.com), Charlie Place (wormhole.carnelianvalley.com), and Simon Savidge (savidgereads.wordpress.com).
The 2016 Shadow Panel read and discussed the four books shortlisted by the Judges – and Dan Dalton, Books Editor at Buzzfeed, chaired the Shadow Panel.
“So many things about the award in its new incarnation are better than I could possibly have hoped for: the huge response by publishers and writers to the initial call-in; the immense support provided by Peters Fraser & Dunlop; the enthusiastic way in which the prize has been received; and the sheer quality of this shortlist, which is better than any previous shortlist I can remember for the award.”
“This is a wonderful line-up of books from four extremely talented writers. I think what’s particularly thrilling is the range of work on display here, as well as its quality. Each of these books confronts the complexities of life, but each has its own distinct style, its own energy. Collectively, they offer a very exciting snapshot of the literary scene.”
“The diversity of genres – poetry, historical thriller, novel and linked short stories – speaks volumes for the adventurous nature of much modern writing, and the variety of themes and approaches is immensely impressive. There is such quality here, and it’s a shortlist to be proud of.”
Follow us on twitter. The Young Writer of the Year Award is a prize of £5,000 for a writer under 35.
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