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Dylan Thomas prize 2021: Raven Leilani wins for her ‘fearless’ debut novel

Namita Gokhale, who was the chair of judges stated the book is "an accomplished and fearless novel that carries the ache, uncertainty and vulnerability as well as the harsh reality of being a young black woman in America."

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
May 14, 2021 12:26:15 pm
The 2021 challenge began May 31 and ends Sunday.(Representational Image)

This year, American author Raven Leilani has won the Dylan Thomas prize for her debut novel, Luster. On receiving the prize, the 30-year-old expressed her elation.

“Very early in my life, Dylan Thomas’ work was an enormous comfort and inspiration to me, so this is an incredible honour and affirmation. When I first encountered his work, I was around 12 and just starting to write, and I remember taking one of his collections home from the library and trying to emulate his rhythm. I still have diaries full of those attempts, and I want to thank the judges, the readers, my family and friends, and my brilliant colleagues at Picador and Trident for their support. It means everything to me.”

Her book was in competition with other novels like: Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat, Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis, The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi, Pew by Catherine Lacey, and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.

Namita Gokhale, who was the chair of judges, stated the book is “an accomplished and fearless novel that carries the ache, uncertainty and vulnerability as well as the harsh reality of being a young black woman in America.”

“The narrator Edie’s incisive eye for all registers of racist bias is unblinking and masterly. This is an important, uncomfortable book, in turns funny and angry, and always compelling. Raven Leilani is an astonishingly original new voice. We are delighted that the jury of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize unanimously decided on this riveting debut novel as its choice for the 2021 prize. We cannot wait to see what comes next from this uncompromising talent,” she added.

Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded annually to a published literary work in the English Language by an author aged 39 or below. Leilani received £20,000, and the event was conducted virtually on the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day, celebrated on May 14.

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