The Sunday Times Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award Shortlist 2016

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Here it is! The shortlist for The Sunday Times Peters Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2016. The shortlisted books and writers are:

An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It by Jessie Greengrass

Physical by Andrew McMillan

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood

Huge congratulations to the four shortlisted authors.

Generously sponsored by literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, the prize is awarded annually to the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35, and has gained attention and acclaim across the publishing industry and press. £5,000 is given to the overall winner and £500 to each of the three runners-up.

The shortlist was chosen by a judging panel comprised of acclaimed broadcaster James Naughtie, award winning historian Stella Tillyard, and The Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate.

James Naughtie said: “These four authors have different voices, and they’re all original and powerful. No one could read this shortlist – whether one of the novels, the poems or the short stories – without feeling the presence of that talent. It springs from the pages. When you close the books you know you’re going to pick them up again and you also know, with certainty, that these writers are going to weave a lot of magic in years to come.”

Stella Tillyard said: “From a strong long-list we have chosen four books, each with a distinctive and original voice. These books are not only complete and new in themselves; they also show potential for the development of the writer and the genre. That’s a privilege and a thrill.”

Andrew Holgate said: “After the outstanding shortlist we came up with in 2015 for the relaunched Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, I was, frankly, nervous about matching it this year. But I needn’t have worried. This is a sensationally strong list of books and writers, all of whom have a real future in literature, and any of whom as winner would stand comparison with the prize’s extraordinary list of past recipients.”


What’s interesting to me about the shortlist is that each book is a different form. An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It is a short story collection; Physical is a poetry collection; Grief Is the The Thing with Feathers is an experimental fiction novella, and The Ecliptic is a novel. Deciding how these different forms can be compared to each other is going to be a fascinating part of the judging process.

Obviously, however, I’m disappointed that the list is dominated by white males, especially after the 2015 shortlist was balanced both in terms of gender and PoC to white writers. What this means for my coverage of the prize is that I will review Jessie Greengrass’ short story collection and hopefully have some exciting extras around her book on this blog. Eric at Lonesome Reader and fellow shadow judge has kindly agreed to host my reviews of the other three books. We’re hoping you’ll follow and join in the discussions around the shortlisted titles. You can follow it on Twitter via the hashtag #YoungWriterAwardShadow.