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Iranian Writer Porochista Khakpour in Contention For $115,000 Dylan Thomas Prize


The 60,000 ($115,000) Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the world's largest international literary awards, this week revealed its long-list in an exclusive announcement, hosted by Hollywood star and Dylan Thomas Prize Ambassador, Michael Sheen.


photo by George Stilabower

Porochista Khakpour, who was born in Tehran, Iran in 1978, is one of the nominated writers for her first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MA from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun and, among many others. She has been awarded fellowships from The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, and The Sewanee Writers' Conference. She currently teaches Fiction at Bucknell University.


Sons and Other Flammable Objects is a lyrical dark comedy, centered on the aftermath of 9/11 and Iranian fathers and sons in Los Angeles and New York, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and was included on the Chicago Tribune's 2007 Fall's Best list. It won the 77th annual California Book Award prize in First Fiction. Her writing has been compared to that of Zadie Smith and Philip Roth.


The 2008 long-list reflects the Dylan Thomas Prize's global status, featuring authors hailing from numerous continents and countries, including South Africa, Kenya, North America, the UK, Iran and China. 

Amongst the list is the critically acclaimed 27 year-old writer Ross Raisin, with his compelling novel, God's Own Country and Eric Gregory Award winner, Zoe Brigley, with The Secret. Caroline Bird, 21, is the youngest writer on the list with her second poetry collection, Trouble Came to the Turnip.


The books cover a broad range of issues, including relationships, religion, racial prejudice and bereavement. While many of the listed books are works of fiction, poetry is also strongly represented, with Jamaican-born Kei Miller, There is an Anger that Moves accompanying fellow poets Caroline Bird and Zoe Brigley on the list.


Peter Stead, Prize Founder and member of the judging panel, said: 

"The calibre of all these works is outstanding. The quality of entries this year has been exceptional, and it was a difficult task to pick out the sixteen authors. However, I believe that this year's long list is one of the strongest ever seen amongst any international literary prize - and the fact that all these writers are under 30 years old clearly demonstrates the talent that is rising amongst the ranks of the world's top writers.


"The Dylan Thomas Prize is important, not only in recognising talent and rewarding all forms of creative writing amongst the world's young and flourishing authors, but also, in that the 60,000 ($115,000) prize will provide the winning writer with the resources necessary to continue creating these inspirational pieces of work. This award honours a truly great writer who died while still a young man and I am sure it will be a great encouragement to young writers everywhere."


The biennial Prize, which is sponsored by Higher Education institution and degree awarding body the University of Wales, was established to honour the internationally esteemed works of Dylan Thomas. It is open to any published writer in the English language under the age of thirty.  With a 60,000 winning reward, it has become one of the largest prizes in the literary world.


Michael Sheen, best known for his portrayal of Tony Blair in the award-winning film The Queen, said:


"It's great to be back in Wales and it's a privilege to be marking my return by being part of an award that honours a truly great writer, a fellow Welsh man, who has inspired so many young people, like myself, to follow what's in their heart.


"Although Dylan Thomas died while still a young man, he demonstrated the kind of unique talent that the Dylan Thomas Prize looks to recognise and reward amongst young writers everywhere across the globe. The sixteen works long-listed this year are very impressive, and certainly showcase the excellence of writing that exists across the entire English-speaking world at present."


Professor Marc Clement, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, said: "The University of Wales is delighted to be the headline sponsor of this unique literary prize which encourages creativity and innovation in today's young writers.  We ourselves value the kind of vision and imagination shown by the sixteen long listed works and, given our commitment to the development of talent and potential in young people, it's a natural fit for us to be involved in the Prize."


The full long-list for the 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize is: Ross Raisin, God's Own Country; Joe Dunthorne, Submarine; Ceridwen Dovey, Blood Kin; Susan Barker, The Orientalist and the Ghost; Priya Basil, Ishq and Mushq; Edward Hogan, Blackmoor; Ben Dolnick, Zoology; Susan Fletcher, Oystercatchers; Adam Green, Satsuma Sun Mover; Kei Miller, There is an Anger that Moves; Caroline Bird, Trouble Came to the Turnip; Zoe Brigley, The Secret; Porohistra Khakpour, Sons and Other Flammable Objects; Nam Le, The Boat; Karen Russell, St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Dinaw Mengestu, Children of the Revolution.


The short list of entries will be announced in September ahead of the award ceremony in November.

... Payvand News - 07/15/08 ... --

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