Manchester author longlisted for prestigious literary prize

Worth £20,000, the prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama

Manchester-based Syrian writer Dima Alzayat has been longlisted for one of the world’s largest literary awards for young writers.

Worth £20,000, the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is 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.

Damascus born Dima, who grew up in San Jose, California and has lived in Manchester for the past few years, has been recognised for this prestigious prize for her debut short story collection, Alligator and Other Stories.

Across nine compelling tales, Dima explores how it feels to be ‘other’ whilst at home: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant, and as a woman.

Each story of the nine stories is a snapshot of those moments when unusual circumstances suddenly distinguish us from our neighbours, when our difference is thrown into relief.

There are ‘dangerous’ women transgressing, missing children in 1970s New York, a family who were once Syrian but have now lost their name, and a young woman about to discover the hollowness of the American dream.

And at its centre lies Alligator: a remarkable compilation of real and invented sources, which rescues from history the story of a Syrian American couple who were murdered at the hands of the state. 

Dima explores experiences that are startling and real, delivering an emotional punch that lingers long after reading.

Her critically acclaimed stories have been described as “sardonic, monstrous, tender” by The Sunday Times and “brilliant” by The Daily Mail.

Launched in 2006, 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.

Other authors in contention include: Exiting Times sensation Naoise Dolan, Booker longlister Gabriel Krauze, and the novel of the moment Luster by Raven Leilani, published in the UK this week.

The list comprises nine novels, two poetry collections and one short story collection.

At a time when travel has been restricted and contact with loved ones limited, these extraordinary titles – eight of which are by female writers – transport the reader from Seoul to Hong Kong, Syria to Kilburn, Montana to Dublin, in a powerful exploration of homeland, identity, and relationships.

The shortlist will be announced on 25th March, with the winner revealed on 13th May, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.


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