The 6 brightest young authors you have to read

Is there a greater joy in life than falling in love with a new book? Finding a fresh new voice to pull you out of a reading slump, help you discover a new genre or to simply gush over to your friends at your next coffee date is a universal pleasure.

But, with approximately 184,000 new books published every year in the UK, it can be hard to know where to start with new book releases. Literary prizes, although many, are a great way of discovering new writers and helping worthy books jump to the top of the pile stacking up on the bedside table.

The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is one such prize: the UK’s largest prize for young writers worth £30,000 and open to authors 39 and under writing in English in any form of fiction. From poems to play, novels to short stories, the prize pays homage to one of the finest writers of the 20th century and invokes his memory by supporting the best young writers of today and nurturing the talents of tomorrow. Previous winners include Max Porter, Joshua Ferris, Maggie Shipstead and Fiona McFarlane. This year’s 10th anniversary shortlist has just been announced, and here are the six young authors their expert judges strongly recommend should be your next great read:

 

Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi

The debut poetry collection from this 31-year-old British Zambian explores the rites of passage boys go through to become men, the intersection of masculinity and race and what it means to be British and not British, all at once. Also shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize and Jhalak Prize, Kayo’s work is a beautiful collection of lyrical, musical poetry that will truly enrich your understanding of UK black culture.

 

Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This debut short story collection from Cuban American author Carmen Maria Machado (31) explores the eroticism, violence and emotion of the female experience through a potent mix of science fiction, ghost stories and fairy tales. She also comes highly recommended by The New York Times, O - The Oprah Magazine, Elle Magazine and New York Magazine who all made it their Book of 2017.

 

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

Six-time British novelist Gwendoline Riley (39) weaves a compelling tale about a catastrophically ill-suited couple, forever straddling the line between relative calm and explosive confrontation. A story about toxic love and poisonous partnerships, this novel has been previously shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Goldsmiths Prize also.

 

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

The youngest shortlisted author at 27 years old, Irish debut author Sally Rooney is a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and has been called the “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”. Her runaway success Conversations with Friends is a turbulent and insightful look into millennial relationships and the pleasures and inhibitions of youth.

 

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

An alumnus of the US’ most prestigious creative writing programmes, Emily Ruskovich’s (30) profound debut thriller novel tells the story of a family recovering from the sudden murder of their six-year-old daughter at the hands of her mother. This moving novel examines memory, imagination and beautifully evokes the quiet but sometimes desolate landscape of rural America.

 

My Absolutely Darling by Gabriel Tallent

A New York Times Bestseller at just 30 years old, Gabriel Tallent’s debut thriller novel catapulted up the charts when Stephen King called it ‘a masterpiece’ in an unsolicited review. ‘This year’s must-read novel’ from The Times, this disturbing tale of a teenage girl’s isolated and abusive relationship with her survivalist father in remote Northern California  has enthralled readers worldwide in an inspiring story of survival and self-discovery.

 

The winner of the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize will be announced on the 10th May. The British Library, London are holding a special public event with the shortlisted authors on Tuesday 8th May, tickets available here.