Books / Book Reviews

I’m shadow judging the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award


The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year AwardEver since working on the Women’s Prize for Fiction, I’ve always been fascinated by the work that goes on behind the scenes of literary prize – particularly when it comes to the judging of the books. And as an avid and ardent reader, I’ve always loved the idea of judging a book prize. And so it was with great delight that – despite being on the other side of the world – I was asked to shadow judge the 2018 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.

Sponsored by literary agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop (who I interned for many moons ago) and in association with Warwick University, the prize is awarded annually for a full-length published or self-published work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by an author aged 18-35. The winner will receive a prize of £5000 a well as a bespoke ten-week residency at the University of Warwick’s acclaimed Warwick Writing Programme – and each of the runners up with receive £500.

Last year’s winner was Sally Rooney for Conversations with Friends (which I read and adored a couple of months ago) and this year’s winner will join an impressive set of alumni that includes everyone from Zadie Smith to Sarah Waters. Joining me on the shadow judging panel is Amanda Chatterton from Bookish Chat, Paul Cheney from Half Man Half Book, Susan Osborne from A Life in Books and Lizzi Risch from These Little Words.

The shortlist will be announced on Sunday, November 4th, and the winner’s ceremony takes place on Thursday, December 6th.

About The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award

The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with Warwick University, is awarded annually for a full-length published or self-published (in book or ebook formats) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by an author aged 18 – 35 years. The winner receives £5,000, and there are three prizes of £500 each for runners-up. The winning book will be a work of outstanding literary merit.

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The Irish writer Sally Rooney was named last year’s Young Writer of the Year for Conversation with Friends (Faber & Faber), which went on to be shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, and the British Book Awards. Rooney followed Max Porter, who won with his genre-bending Grief is the Thing with Feathers (Faber & Faber), and the poet Sarah Howe, who was awarded in 2015 for her first collection, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus), which went on to win the T.S. Eliot Prize. This year’s winner will join these three exceptional writers, and a list of alumni that includes everyone from Robert Macfarlane and Simon Armitage to Zadie Smith and Sarah Waters.

The prize – which rewards the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35 – has become the definitive platform for young writing. Working with a growing network of partners, including the British Council, it provides a vital support system to the very best talent at work now. Generously sponsored by literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, and created by The Sunday Times, the Young Writer of the Year Award is running in association with the University of Warwick – home to the acclaimed Warwick Writing Programme – who are offering a bespoke 10-week residency for the award’s winner, and a year long programme of digital support for the Prize. The British Council is the international partner of the prize.

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