Sri Lankan origin debut novelist wins Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize

Monday 20th May 2019 09:23 EDT

Guy Gunaratne, a 35 year old British-Sri Lankan human rights documentary filmmaker, turned debut novelist, has been announced as the winner of this year’s Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, with a prize sum of £30,000, at a ceremony held at Swansea University for his debut novel 'In Our Mad and Furious City'. 

Guy Gunaratne lives between London, UK and Malmö, Sweden. His first novel In Our Mad and Furious City was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards. He has worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker covering human rights stories around the world.

In 'Our Mad and Furious City' (Tinder Press, Headline) burst into consciousness in 2018 providing an urgent, timely and compelling fictional account of 48 hours in a North West London housing estate after the murder of a British soldier, as told through three narrators. Risky and inventive, Gunaratne has been lauded for providing an authentic voice to marginalised sectors of society and for shining a spotlight on the very real experiences of youths from minority backgrounds.

After careful deliberation the winner was chosen by a judging panel chaired by Swansea University Professor Dai Smith CBE along with acclaimed poet and Professor Kurt Heinzelman from the University of Texas, Books Editor for the BBC Di Speirs and award-winning novelist Kit de Waal.

Chair of the judges Professor Dai Smith CBE said, “Once in a while, a work of fiction appears which uses voice, style and story, as only works of the imagination can, to let us enter, to makes us see, to demand we understand lives and circumstances seldom given that centre stage position in our contemporary culture and society. This is what Guy Gunaratne’s stunning multi-voice debut novel ‘In Our Mad and Furious City’ sets out to do and bravely achieves for marginal lives, young and old, in the unforgiving whirlpool of London today.”

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 2019 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize were: House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Trinity by Louisa Hall, FOLK by Zoe Gilbert and Melmoth by Sarah Perry.

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