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After weeks of reading, thinking and discussing, and a strong consensus in favour of the winner at a fascinating judging meeting, our 2019 Shadow Panel are now ready to reveal who they have chosen as their winner.

Julia Armfield, for her collection of short stories salt slow.

In her brilliantly inventive and haunting debut collection of stories, Julia Armfield explores bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of her characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession, love and revenge. Teenagers develop ungodly appetites, a city becomes insomniac overnight, and bodies are diligently picked apart to make up better ones. The mundane worlds of schools and sleepy sea-side towns are invaded and transformed, creating a landscape which is constantly shifting to hold on to its inhabitants. Blurring the mythic and the gothic with the everyday, salt slow considers characters in motion – turning away, turning back or simply turning into something new entirely.  Julia is a fiction writer and occasional playwright who lives and works in London.


What the panel said: 

“Salt Slow is a pitch perfect collection of nine stories that not only enthralled us all, but also unapologetically puts women absolutely at the heart of each one, and there is a delicious sense of anticipation as you wait to discover their fate. I loved the notion that right at the edge of our world is another of infinite possibilities, and Julia Armfield has undoubtedly written a book that demands subsequent readings to delight in the stunning prose and savour the transformations that each story reveals.” – Clare Reynolds, Years of Reading Selfishly


“Salt Slow is an intriguing and original collection of short stories; an immersive mix of magical realism with contemporary and important issues.
The panel agreed that the writing is both intelligent and searing and is a book that will stand the test of time.” – Anne Cater, Random Things Through My Letterbox

“I’m thrilled that Salt Slow by Julia Armfield is the Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writers Shadow Panel winner. This collection of short stories is not only beautifully written with luminous, descriptive prose, but Julia Armfield takes concepts with which we are familiar in a modern world, such as lack of sleep, and transforms them into fascinating, disturbing and compelling narratives that resonate with her readers on many levels, both personally, socially and globally. Salt Slow is an absolute triumph. I loved it. ” – Linda Hill, Linda’s Book Bag


“These are stories that centre young women’s experiences, that take the time to express their feelings, indeed to personify those feelings. They have an eerie sense of being at the same time in the mundane world and also somewhere quite different – with the combination being totally compatible, totally to be expected, something to be lived with and through. Taken together this is a strong collection, and a joy to read.” – David Harris, Blue Book Balloon

Salt Slow is a stand-out collection of short stories that brings vivid, imaginative and grotesque tales of transformation to life. Julia Armfield’s irresistible and haunting writing style drew me right into the heart of each story and I’m so pleased that she’s our shadow panel winner.” – Phoebe Williams, The Brixton Bookworm


Huge congratulations to Julia – and a great big thank you to our wonderful Shadow Panel who have dedicated so much time and energy to choosing their winner.  It has been fascinating to read their thoughts this year.

 The winner of the 2019 Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award will be announced on 5 December 2019.

Young Writer Award @YoungWriterYear

Follow us on twitter. The Young Writer of the Year Award is a prize of £10,000 for a writer under 35.

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