Women Make up Half the Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist

Dylan Thomas
2013 might just be shaping up as the year the establishment gave a decisive nod to female writing talent.

Since its inaugural year, the prize has stated its intention to nurture rising talent, and, true to its ethos, five of the six female entries are débuts (the full list boasts nine).

These comprise of three novels by Emma Chapman, Marli Roode and Julie Sarkissian, hailing from the UK, South Africa and North America respectively; a short story collection by California-born Claire Vaye Watkins; and a poetry collection by Jemima L. King, a founding member of the Centre for Women, Writing and Literary Culture in Aberystwyth.

The sixth is No Quarter by critically acclaimed dramatist, Polly Stenham, whose first play That Face earned her the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright in 2007. She is the Dylan Thomas Prize’s first ever drama entry.

The previous three winners have all been women, and we've got our fingers crossed that one of the six listed this year can continue this streak.This year’s women-centric longlist isn’t unusual for the prize, which has done more than most to celebrate women’s writing talent. Six of 2012’s ten longlisters were women and 2010’s shortlist was all women.

The previous three winners have all been women, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that one of the six listed this year – whose work spans subjects and contexts from Johannesburg murder suspects, the Pendle witches and a prostitution ranch – can continue this streak.

Speaking of this year’s longlist, the award’s chair, Peter Stead, said “the sheer volume of new talent we’ve discovered leaves me with a feeling that we are going to have an exceptional year.”

With the shortlist for both this and the Man Booker due in Autumn, we’re hoping it’s less exceptional and more one of definitive change.

See the full list here

Abbie Salter