The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is proud to announce its 2022 shortlist.
Namita Gokhale, Chair of Judges: "The long list for Swansea University's Dylan Thomas Prize 2022 was one of the strongest ever. The panel has selected a shortlist that is gripping and motivating on many levels. It presents a rich variety of acclaimed young and new voices, their poetic, historical and contemporary reflections. ”
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta)
A Passage North begins with a message from out of the blue: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died under unexpected circumstances - found at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an impassioned yet aloof activist Krishnan fell in love with years before while living in Delhi, stirring old memories and desires from a world he left behind.
As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province for Rani’s funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, as well as an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s thirty-year civil war, this procession to a pyre “at the end of the earth” lays bare the imprints of an island’s past, the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek.
Written with precision and grace, Anuk Arudpragasam’s masterful novel is an attempt to come to terms with life in the wake of devastation, and a poignant memorial for those lost and those still living.
Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North (Granta)
Anuk Arudpragasam was born in Colombo and currently lives between Sri Lanka and India. His debut novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage, won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize as well as the Internationaler Literaturpreis. His second novel, A Passage North, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021. He received a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University in 2019.
[Photo credit: Ruvin De Silva]
Auguries of a Minor God by Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe (Faber)
Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe’s spellbinding debut poetry collection explores love and the wounds it makes. Its first half is composed of five sections, corresponding to the five arrows of Kama, the Hindu God of Love, Desire and Memory. From ‘stunning’ and ‘paralysing’ to ‘killing’ and ‘destroying’, each arrow has its own effect on some body – a very real, contemporary body – and its particular journey of love.
The second is a long narrative poem, ‘A is for [Arabs]’, which follows a different kind of journey: a family of refugees who have fled to the West from conflict in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. With an extraordinary structure, yoking abecedarian and Fibonacci sequences, it is a skilful and intimate account of migration and exile, of home and belonging.
Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Auguries of a Minor God (Faber)
Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe is a poet, pacifist and fabulist. Born in India, she grew up across the Middle East, Europe and North America before calling Ireland home. Founder of the Play It Forward Fellowships, she serves as poetry editor at Skein Press and Fallow Media, contributing editor for the Stinging Fly and an advisory board member of Ledbury Poetry Critics Ireland. She is the recipient of a Next Generation Artist Award in Literature from the Arts Council of Ireland and the inaugural Ireland Chair of Poetry Student Award.
[Photo credit: Angela Isaac Panat]
The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris (Tinder Press / Headline)
Landry and Prentiss are two brothers born into slavery, finally freed as the American Civil War draws to its bitter close. Cast into the world without a penny to their names, their only hope is to find work in a society that still views them with nothing but intolerance.
Farmer George Walker and his wife Isabelle are reeling from a loss that has shaken them to their core. After a chance encounter, they agree to employ the brothers on their land, and slowly the tentative bonds of trust begin to blossom between the strangers.
But this sanctuary survives on a knife’s edge, and it isn’t long before a tragedy causes the inhabitants of the nearby town to turn their suspicion onto these new friendships, with devastating consequences.
Nathan Harris, The Sweetness of Water (Tinder Press / Headline)
Nathan Harris is a Michener fellow at the University of Texas. He was awarded the Kidd prize, as judged by Anthony Doerr, and was also a finalist for the Tennessee Williams fiction prize. The Sweetness of Water is his debut novel. He lives in Austin, Texas.
[Photo credit: Laurel Sager]
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
This is a story about a life lived in two halves.
It's about what happens when real life collides with the increasing absurdity of a world accessed through a screen.
It's about living in world that contains both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.
It's a meditation on love, language and human connection from one of the most original voices of our time.
Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This (Bloomsbury Circus / Bloomsbury Publishing)
Patricia Lockwood is the author of four books, including the 2021 novel No One Is Talking About This, an international bestseller which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and translated into 20 languages. Her 2017 memoir Priestdaddy won the Thurber Prize for American Humor and was named one of the Guardian's 100 best books of the 21st century. She also has two poetry collections, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals (2014) and Balloon Pop Outlaw Black (2012). Lockwood's work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the London Review of Books, where she is a contributing editor. She lives in Savannah, Georgia.
Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking / Penguin General)
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists - he a photographer, she a dancer - trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.
At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.
Caleb Azumah Nelson, Open Water (Viking / Penguin General)
Caleb Azumah Nelson is a 27-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London. His photography has been shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize and won the People's Choice prize. His short story, PRAY, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020. His first novel, Open Water, won the Costa First Novel Award and the Bad Form Book of the Year Award, was shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year, and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize. He was selected as a National Book Foundation '5 under 35' honoree by Brit Bennett in 2021.
Twitter: @CalebANelson | Instagram: caleb_anelson
[photo credit: Stuart Simpson, Penguin Books]
Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor (Daunt Books Publishing)
In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, a young man tentatively engages with the world again. Recently discharged from hospital, Lionel meets two dance students at a party. Charles and Sophie’s relationship is difficult to read but Lionel is drawn to them both. As he navigates their sexually fraught encounters he is forced to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness – and to consider his return to life. Elsewhere, a little girl runs wild to the consternation of her childminder; unspoken frictions among a group of teenagers come to a vicious head on a winter night; and a woman dreads a first date only to find that something has cracked open.
What connects these stories is the tension between the surface of things and the intensity of our inner worlds. With exquisite empathy, Brandon Taylor shows that though violence hovers at the edge of many encounters, so too does tenderness and love.
Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals (Daunt Books Publishing)
Brandon Taylor is the author of the acclaimed novel Real Life, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and the Foyles Fiction Book of the Year. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow in fiction.
[Photo credit: Bill Adams]