The Society of Authors today revealed the shortlist for several awards, including the Betty Trask, a prize for first novels written by authors under the age of 35, and the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award for short stories:
Ruqaya Izzidien’s The Watermelon Boys, published by Hoopoe/AUC Press as part of their move into English-language fiction, is one of seven books on the Betty Trask shortlist. The others are:
The Litten Path by James Clarke (Salt)
The Chameleon by Samuel Fisher (Salt)
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker)
Paul by Daisy Lafarge (unpublished)
Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley (Sandstone Press)
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Hamish Hamilton)
In a prepared statement, Betty Trask Prize judge Elanor Dymott said:
It’s been thrilling to read so many rich, perplexing, startling, strange and beautiful books for this prize. My understanding of what a novel can do has been enriched, my horizons broadened, and my belief in the power of story strengthened. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve been unable to put books down, and I’ve been reminded of what a luxury it is to sink into a really, really good novel, and how difficult it can be, when pressed, to choose the pick of the bunch.
Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. The winner of the 2018 Betty Trask Prize was Omar Robert Hamilton’s The City Always Wins.
Five titles are up for the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, the SoA’s short-story prize. In addition to “Once We Were Syrians,” by Dima Alzayat, there is also: “Gerardo Dreams of Chillies” by Niall Bourke, “Tiny and Pointed” by Claire Fuller, “The Kids by Bruce Meyer,” and “Blessing” by Bunmi Ogunsiji.
Picador recently announced that they have acquired a collection of short stories from Dima Alzayat.
All five SoA prizes will be awarded on Monday June 17.
More from Ruqaya Izzidien:
‘Watermelon Boys’ Author Ruqaya Izzidien on Writing Iraqis into Iraqi Historical Fiction