Writing Wales

International Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist 2019

The shortlisted nominees for this year’s International Dylan Thomas Prize are a mix of debut authors and established writers (including one who has two best-sellers to her name) from a mix of cultural backgrounds. .

This is the 11th year of the  prize which is targeted at young authors under the age of 40 who are writing in English.

The Prize celebrates published work in the broad range of literary forms in which Dylan Thomas excelled, including poetry, prose, fictional drama, short story collections, novels, novellas, stage plays and screenplays. Entries for the prize are submitted by publishers, editors, agents and in the case of theatre plays and screenplays, by producers.

The five novels and one collection of short stories shortlisted for 2019 are:

  • American-Ghanaian writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah for his debut short story collection Friday Black which explores what it’s like to grow up as a black male in America.
  • Debut novelist Zoe Gilbert  for Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing) which was developed from her fascination in ancient folklore and the resurgence of nature writing. She won the Costa Short Story Award in 2014.
  • British-Sri-Lankan debut novelist, Guy Gunaratne for In Our Mad and Furious City.  It was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize.
  • Louisa Hall  with her latest book Trinity which tackles the complex life of the father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer through seven fictional characters.
  • For the second time Sarah Perry  has been shortlisted for the prize; this time for her best-selling novel Melmoth, named by The Observer newspaper as one of the best fiction books of 2018 B. It’s a morally complex novel which poses questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.
  • Zimbabwean debut novelist Novuyo Rosa Tshuma with House of Stone which reveals the mad and glorious death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of modern Zimbabwe.

Authors who were longlisted but didn’t make the final selection were:

  • Michael Donkor, Hold
  • Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In
  • Emma Glass, Peach
  • Sally Rooney, Normal People
  • Richard Scott, Soho
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level


An interesting initiative this year sees BA English Lit students at Swansea University (a partner in the awards) study the shortlisted works as part of a new module. Their interviews with the authors are available as podcasts here 

Last year’s winner Kayo Chingonyi won for his critically-acclaimed debut poetry collection, Kumukanda, which explores black masculinity.

The 2019 winner – who will pick up a cheque for  £30,000 – will be announced on Thursday 16 May.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

8 thoughts on “International Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist 2019

  • What a fascinating list! I’ve not read any Sarah Perry, I’ve always assumed from the writhy covers that they’re not my thing, somehow! Anyway, a brilliant list – who do you want to win?

    • I confess that I’ve not come across any of these books other than Sarah Perry. I wasn’t all that interested in The Essex Serpent and though I did look at Melmoth recently, after 20 pages decided it wasn’t for me….

  • Judy Krueger

    I have read Friday Black and found it wonderful. I have not read Melmoth yet but loved her first novel.

    • I wasn’t keen on Melmoth – only read about 20 pages before deciding it was not my thing

  • Oops, no, I’ve also read House of Stone. That one, I really liked:)

  • What do you think? I’ve only read Melmoth (and didn’t care for it much).
    I think I should check out In Our Mad and Furious City…..

  • Such an interesting list! I’ve only read Melmoth, a very striking novel, and I’m keen to read Trinity.


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