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The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award Announces Shortlist

The most influential prize for young writers in the UK and Ireland, The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award, today announces its shortlist of authors, described by Chief Literary Critic for The Times and Sunday Times, Johanna Thomas-Corr, as "injecting real energy and vitality into the literary scene," and by judge James McConnachie as four "books that believe in the possibility of change." The judges have chosen:


  • Tom Crewe, an editor and debut novelist from Middlesborough, for his daring novel of nineteenth-century forbidden desire The New Life (Vintage), which won the 2023 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature, and was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.


  • West Belfast-born writer and editor Michael Magee for his debut novel Close to Home (Hamish Hamilton), a striking and vivid portrayal of young, working class life in Northern Ireland, which won the 2023 Rooney Prize for Literature and the Nero Book Awards for Debut Fiction.


  • Noreen Masud, a Scottish-Pakistani writer and lecturer, for her raw and radical autobiography A Flat Place (Hamish Hamilton), which weaves her impressions of the natural world with poetry, folklore and history, and with recollections of her own early life, and is longlisted for Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction 2024.


  • Somali-British poet and essayist Momtaza Mehri, whose debut poetry collection Bad Diaspora Poems (Jonathan Cape), told in lyric, prose and text messages, confronts ideas around diaspora, migration and home, and is the winner of an Eric Gregory Award and the 2023 Forward Prize for Best First Collection.


The award is working to extend its partnership network across the literary world. In its first year as the new sponsor, the Charlotte Aitken Trust increased the prize sum to £10,000 with each shortlistee receiving £1,000. This prize money will remain as part of the winner package for this year.


Chair of judges Johanna Thomas-Corr is joined by exceptional judges, Booker-winning writer and novelist Anne Enright, novelist and critic Mendez, author and critic James McConnachie, poet Daljit Nagra and novelist Catriona Ward.


Johanna Thomas-Corr said: "We have found four very different writers who are injecting real energy and vitality into the literary scene. What impressed me most was their attentiveness to the world around them and their commitment to telling complex and often tough truths, as well as the unique ways in which each has made space for humour in their work. They have all shown daring and gumption."


This year, the shadow panel of judges has been reinstated for the first time since 2020. Together, four influential book bloggers will read discuss each of the titles, deciding on their own winner ahead of the announcement, and also interview the shortlisted authors for the interview series ‘Readers on Writers’ which will be published on the Young Writer Award website.


The winner receives a prize of £10,000 (with each shortlistee receiving £1,000), and will be announced in a ceremony at Canova Hall, Brixton on Tuesday, 19 March 2024. The four shortlisted authors will also be in conversation at a public event in a central London Waterstones on Monday, 18 March, hosted by Sebastian Faulks, Chair of the Charlotte Aitken Trust.


 

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