Arinze Ifeakandu wins Swansea University Dylan Thomas prize 2023

Bags prize for debut book 'God’s Children Are Little Broken Things'

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Arinze
Arinze Ifeakandu author of God’s Children Are Little Broken Things

Nigerian writer Arinze Ifeakandu has been awarded one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – for his ‘exhilarating’ debut, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things. It is a short fiction collection, whose nine stories simmer with loneliness and love, and depict what it means to be gay in contemporary Nigeria.

Described as ‘gorgeous…full of subtlety, wisdom and heart’ by Sarah Waters, ‘quietly transgressive’ by Damon Galgut and awarded the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things has established 28-year-old Ifeakandu as a vital new voice in literary fiction.

Ifeakandu was awarded the prestigious £20,000 Prize at a ceremony held in Swansea on 11 May, prior to International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May, with November 2023 marking 70 years since the Welsh poet’s death.

The chair of judges, Di Speirs, said: “We were unanimous in our praise and admiration for this exhilarating collection of nine stories.  Arinze Ifeakandu’s debut shines with maturity, the writing bold, refreshing and exacting but never afraid to linger and to allow characters and situations to develop and change, so that the longer stories are almost novels in themselves.  A kaleidoscopic reflection of queer life and love in Nigeria, the constraints, the dangers and the humanity, this is a collection that we wanted to press into many readers’ hands around the world and which left us excited to know what Arinze Ifeakandu will write next.”

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.

The other titles shortlisted for the 2023 Prize were: Limberlost by Robbie Arnott (Atlantic Books), Seven Steeples by Sara Baume (Tramp Press), I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel (Rough Trade Books/Granta), Send Nudes by Saba Sams (Bloomsbury Publishing), and Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire (Chatto & Windus, Vintage).

Arinze Ifeakandu joins an illustrious list of writers to have been awarded this prestigious Prize, including Raven Leilani, Bryan Washington, Guy Gunaratne, Kayo Chingonyi, Fiona McFarlane and Max Porter.

Arinze Ifeakandu was born in Kano, Nigeria. An AKO Caine Prize for African Writing finalist and A Public Space Writing Fellow, he is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in A Public Space, One Story, and Guernica. God’s Children Are Little Broken Things is his first book.

Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence. Worth £20,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as one of the world’s largest literary prizes 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. 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.

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