Category Archives: Longlist 2019
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I am delighted as part of the University of Swansea International Dylan Thomas Prize longlist 2019 to share my thoughts on Normal People (Faber & Faber) by Sally Rooney.
A little about Normal People by Sally Rooney:
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.
This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.
Normal People was THE most talked about novel of 2018 and is Sally Rooney’s second novel following Conversations with Friends which was showered with praise. This time around Sally Rooney has managed to surpass her debut novel. I cannot believe that I have managed to go this far without reading Normal People despite the many people urging me to read it. Once I started I really could not put this down. There is something rather special about Rooney’s writing and there is energy and something more the ease at how she writes. It is therefore no surprise when you consider the list of literary prize nominations that she has received for Normal People.
Some say beware of books that are lauded with praise and prizes but not in this case. For Sally Rooney has raised the bar to such a height that I am already excited to see how she manages to surpass her second brilliant novel.
Normal People is a compelling read. Set in a small town in Ireland and the two main characters in Marianne and Connell. Both are very different in personalities and background but they not only share the same school but also the same class.
Marianne is seen as a quiet loner somewhat different than the rest with her wealthy family she is somewhat left alone. Connell on the other hand is really popular among his peers his background could not be different as his mother is a single parent. It just took one moment and the spark was ignited and then we follow two different young people on their journey through the later school years and through their twenties.
There is at time passion and there is at times sheer intensity between the two young people as they go from school to University and then their first steps into the world of work.
When you read Rooney’s writing there is something so different yet sublime but there is something so unique that really attract the reader into the story. We find the two star-crossed young lovers bouncing from between the sheets to being friends and then back between the sheets again. Would this be because of their backgrounds and personalities? Is there a force that means that they were destined for each other as both Marianne and Connell seem to be inseparable?
So the couple mature from their school days to adulthood and the complexities of modern life and how they really begin to understand each other. A modern day love story and a testament of today. Brilliant and Outstanding and a book not to be missed.
The Shortlist will be announced on Tuesday 2nd April and I will be announcing this via my Twitter and Instagram feed during the morning.
WINNER OF THE COSTA NOVEL AWARD 2018
WINNER OF THE SPECSAVERS NATIONAL BOOKS AWARD 2018 (International Author)
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2019
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 SWANSEA UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE.
Thank you to Agnes Rowe for the review copy of Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People by Sally Rooney was published by Faber & Faber and was published on 30th August 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow the 2019 Longlist for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize.
The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist 2019
On Thursday 31st January the longlist for The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize was announced. Always one of the most anticipated of literary prizes. The winner will be announced on Thursday 16th May. There will be a special event being held at the British Library on 15th May when all the shortlisted authors will be present. I am really excited at this years longlist and already looking forward the British Library event as I will be attending this year.
You can follow the prize via Twitter: @dylanthomprize #IDTP19
This year’s longlist of 12 books comprises eight novels, two short story collections and two poetry collections:
- Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK))
- Michael Donkor, Hold (4th Estate)
- Clare Fisher, How the Light Gets In (Influx Press)
- Zoe Gilbert, Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing)
- Emma Glass, Peach ((Bloomsbury Publishing)
- Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline)
- Louisa Hall, Trinity (Ecco)
- Sarah Perry, Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail)
- Sally Rooney, Normal People (Faber & Faber)
- Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
- Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone (Atlantic Books)
- Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)
The Longlisted authors:
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is from Spring Valley, New York. He graduated from SUNY Albany and went on to receive his MFA from Syracuse University. He was the ’16-’17 Olive B. O’Connor fellow in fiction at Colgate University. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Guernica, Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing, Printer’s Row, Gravel, and The Breakwater Review, where he was selected by ZZ Packer as the winner of the 2nd Annual Breakwater Review Fiction Contest. Friday Black is his first book.
Michael Donkor was born in London, to Ghanaian parents. He studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, undertook a Master’s in creative Writing at Royal Holloway and now teaches English Literature to secondary school students. Many of the issues in this novel are close to his heart, and his writing won him a place on the Writers’ Centre Norwich Inspires Scheme in 2014, where he received a year’s mentoring from Daniel Hahn.
Clare Fisher was born and made in Tooting, south London in 1987. Her first novel, All the Good Things, was published by Viking, Penguin in 2017. How The Light Gets In, her first short story collection was published by Influx Press in 2018. She now lives in Leeds.
Zoe Gilbert is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally. She has taken part in writing projects in China and South Korea for the British Council, and she is completing a PhD on folk tales in contemporary fiction. The co-founder of London Lit Lab, which provides writing courses and mentoring for writers, she lives on the coast in Kent.
Emma Glass was born in Swansea. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent, then decided to become a nurse and went back to study Children’s Nursing at Swansea University. She lives and works in London. Peach is her first book.
Guy Gunaratne lives between London, UK and Malmö, Sweden. His first novel In Our Mad and Furious City was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards. He has worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker covering human rights stories around the world.
Louisa Hall grew up in Philadelphia. She is the author of the novels Speak and The Carriage House, and her poems have been published in The New Republic, Southwest Review, and other journals. She is a professor at the University of Iowa, and the Western Writer in Residence at Montana State University. Trinity is her third novel.
Sarah Perry was born in Essex in 1979. She has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library and the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague. After Me Comes the Flood, her first novel, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Folio Prize, and won the East Anglian Book of the Year Award in 2014. Her latest novel, The Essex Serpent, was a number one bestseller in hardback, Waterstones Book of the Year 2016, the British Book Awards Book of the Year 2017, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and Dylan Thomas Award, and longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. She lives in Norwich.
Sally Rooney was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, The White Review, The Dublin Review, The Stinging Fly, Kevin Barry’s Stonecutter and The Winter Page anthology. Her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, was a Sunday Times, Observer and Telegraph Book of the Year; it was shortlisted for both the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Rooney was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘Mr Salary’ and was the winner of the Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second novel Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018. She is the editor of the biannual Dublin literary magazine The Stinging Fly.
Richard Scott grew up in London and studied at the Royal College of Music and at Goldsmiths College. He has been a winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, a Jerwood/Arvon Poetry mentee, and a member of the Poetry Trust Aldeburgh Eight. His pamphlet Wound (Rialto) won the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2016 and his poem ‘crocodile’ won the 2017 Poetry London Competition. Soho is his first book.
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma grew up in Zimbabwe, and has lived in South Africa and the USA. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies, and she was awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for the best literary work in English
Jenny Xie is the author of EYE LEVEL (Graywolf Press, 2018), finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, and recipient of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. Her chapbook, NOWHERE TO ARRIVE (Northwestern University Press, 2017) received the Drinking Gourd Prize. Her work has appeared in Poetry, New York Times Magazine, New Republic, and Tin House, among other publications, and she has been supported by fellowships and grants from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Poets & Writers. She is on faculty at New York University and lives in New York.
Key Dates for the International Dylan Thomas Prize
- Longlist will be announced 12:00 GMT Thursday 31st January 2019
- Shortlist will be announced 12:00 GMT Tuesday 2nd April 2019
- British Library Event Wednesday 15th May 2019
- Winner will be announced evening of Thursday 16th May 2019.
About the International Dylan Thomas Prize: Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence. Worth £30,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama. The prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally-renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.
Meet the 2019 Judges
Professor Kurt Heinzelman is a poet, translator, and scholar. His most recent book of poems is Whatever You May Say and he has translated Demarcations, a collection of poems by Jean Follain. He has been the Executive Curator at the Harry Ransom Center and the Director of Education at the Blanton Museum of Art. A Professor of English at the University of Texas-Austin specializing in Poetry and Poetics and a teacher in the Michener Center for Writers, he is also the former Editor-in-Chief of Texas Studies in Literature and Language (TSLL), and the co-founder and longtime Advisory Editor of Bat City Review. [photo credit University of Texas at Austin/ Christina S. Murrey]
Professor Dai Smith CBE is a distinguished historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture. As a Broadcaster he has won numerous awards for arts and historical documentaries and from 1992 to 2000 was Head of Programmes at BBC Wales. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan from 2001 until 2005 and is currently the Emeritus Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University. He was Chair of the Arts Council of Wales from 2006 until 2016 and is Series Editor of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Library of Wales for classic works. In 2013, he published a novel Dream On and in 2014 edited definitive anthologies of Welsh short stories, Story I & II, for the Library of Wales. His latest fiction, the novella What I Know I Cannot Say, and the linked short stories All That Lies Beneath, was published by Parthian Books in 2017. Professor Smith is Chair of the Judging Panel.
Di Speirs is the Books Editor for BBC Radio, overseeing all London Readings, ‘Open Book’ and ‘Bookclub’ on BBC Radio 4 and ‘World Book Club’ on the BBC World Service. She has produced innumerable editions of ‘Book at Bedtime’ over two decades and produced the first ever ‘Book of the Week’ in 1998. Instrumental in the BBC National Short Story Award since its inception, and its regular judge, she has also chaired the Orange Award for New Writers in 2010, judged the Wellcome Prize in 2017 and twice been a nominator for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (Literature). She is a member of the Charleston Small Wonder Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award panel.
Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, for Social Services and the Crown Prosecution Service. She is a founding member of Leather Lane Writers and Oxford Narrative Group and has won numerous awards for her short stories and flash fiction. My Name is Leon, her debut novel won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2017 and was shortlisted for numerous other awards including the Costa First Book Award and the Desmond Elliott Prize. The Trick to Time, her second novel, was published in 2018 and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
The 2018 Winner: Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi.
For more information visit the official website: