John Ezard

Welsh novelist is first winner

  • Prize only for writers under 30
  • Award richest in its league

    London: A new worldwide literary award drawing on the magical Welsh name of Dylan Thomas has announced its first £60,000 winner. The prize the U.K.'s highest-paying and restricted to work by writers under 30 went to Rachel Trezise, 28, from the Rhondda valley in south Wales, for her novel Fresh Apples.

    She was the only Welsh author on the shortlist of six novels but her win came only after the hardest of struggles on a panel split between three authors.

    The judges had been due to agree a result on Wednesday but they were deadlocked and had to meet again, only hours before the prize-giving ceremony in Swansea, Wales.

    `Exceptional maturity'

    Announcing Ms. Trezise's victory, the chairman of judges, TV scriptwriter Andrew Davies, said: "For all the judges, Rachel seemed to be the most original voice. It is remarkable for such a young writer to be so much of herself and not easily influenced in her work. Indeed, the confidence, coolness and maturity of tone in Fresh Apples is exceptional. I would go as far as to say that her collection of short stories in Fresh Apples can be easily compared to James Joyce's Dubliners."

    The Dylan Thomas award is worth £10,000 more than Britain's other two richest book prizes, the Man Booker and the Costa (formerly the Whitbread).

    The event left its organisers with one awkward surprise.

    Only five of the total of 50 books submitted were by practitioners of what Dylan Thomas called "my craft or sullen art" of poetry.

    Top Welsh publisher Seren said the chief problem for them was not affording fees but finding authors on their list younger than 30.

    Other contenders

    The other novels on the shortlist were: James Scudamore's The Amnesia Clinic; Lucy Caldwell's Where They Were Missed; Liza Ward's Outside Valentine; Nick Laird's Utterly Monkey; and Ian Holding's Unfeeling.

    Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006