Irish author Sara Baume shortlisted for prestigious international book prize
Life & Style

Irish author Sara Baume shortlisted for prestigious international book prize

AN IRISH author has made the shortlist for one of the world’s largest literary prizes celebrating young writers.

Cork native Sara Baume has been announced as one of six authors shortlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.

The final list – featuring four debuts and four female writers, as well as three titles from independent publishing houses – comprises three novels, two short story collections, and one poetry collection.

Baume is listed for her novel Seven Steeples, published by Tramp Press in Ireland.

Based in Skibbereen, west Cork, she is a previous winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Rooney Prize for Literature and the E.M. Forster Award.

She also works as a visual artist.

Cork-based Sara Baume has been nominated for her third novel Seven Steeples (Pic: Kenneth O'Halloran)

Baume goes up against Limberlost by Australian writer Robbie Arnott, God's Children Are Little Broken Things, a selection of short stories by Nigerian author Arinze Ifeakandu, I'm a Fan by British author Sheena Patel and Send Nudes by Saba Sams, also based in Britain, and Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, a poetry collection by Somali-British writer Warsan Shire.

Di Speirs, Chair of the judges, and Books Editor at BBC Audio, said of the shortlist: “There’s brilliance and beauty in the six books shortlisted for this year’s Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.

“All six – while hugely different in style, subject and genre, and ranging from rural Tasmania and the wild Irish coast to the sharply contemporary in Nigeria and the UK – exemplify not only the talent and excitingly fresh, often startling, writing we were seeking, but draw the reader in and on.

“There’s wit and wisdom, pleasure and pain, acute observation of the natural world and of human relationships and above all, so much to savour.

“That we all agreed so clearly on our shortlist is testament to the strength of this potent mix of poetry, short stories and novels and to the power of the six writers.”

Worth £20,000, the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers.

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.

Judge Jon Gower, the prize-winning Welsh author and lecturer in English at Swansea University, describes Baume’s third novel as “beautifully quiet and quietly beautiful” he adds that the novel “maps out two lovers’ lives with custodial care and in delicate, precision prose”.

“In Bell and Sigh, Sarah Baume has created a marvellously shambolic and memorable pair of characters, setting them in a creaking house in a wind-blown Irish landscape, where they walk their dogs and grow ever closer,” he explains.

“Tender and true, this is a book that lingers like the coconut scent of gorse in full flower.”

The judges will now go away and select their winner, with the final decision due to be announced at a Winner’s Ceremony held in Swansea on Thursday, May 11, prior to International Dylan Thomas Day on Sunday, May 14.

Joining Ms Speirs and Mr Gower in whittling down the six-strong shortlist to a single winner is American bestselling author and 2012 winner of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize winner Maggie Shipstead, British poet and the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, Rachel Long, and Nepali-Indian author and 2013 Prize shortlistee Prajwal Parajuly.