The shortlist was announced last night for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, which celebrates the best work of literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry or drama) by a UK or Commonwealth writer aged 35 or under.
This year welcomes a truly international shortlist with writers from Nigeria, India, Canada Australia and the UK vying for this year’s award, which is the second oldest literary award in the UK. The 2009 shortlist comprises two works of non-fiction, a debut poetry collection, a collection of short stories and two novels.
Debuts by Emma Jones and James Maskalyk are up against prize winner stalwarts Aravind Adiga and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie whose short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck is her first work since winning the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.
Global issues are at the forefront of the non-fiction nominations this year, with both James Maskalyk and Tristram Stuart examining the issues of want and surplus from either side of the developed world. Maskalyk’s Six Months in the Sudan began life as a blog written from a hut during his time as a doctor working for Médecins sans Frontière, and the hardship and malnutrition suffered by the inhabitants of the contested border town of Abyei. In contrast, Stuart’s book Waste encounters grotesque examples of the profligacy of the West, and its direct consequence on the poverty and rising costs of food in the developing nations.
The shortlist is:
Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga (Atlantic Books)
The Striped World by Emma Jones (Faber and Faber)
Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk (Canongate)
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate)
Waste by Tristram Stuart (Allen Lane)
After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld (Jonathan Cape)
The winner will be announced at a ceremony at Century Club, London, on Monday 30 November. The winning author receives a cheque for £5,000 while the other shortlisted authors receive £500 each.