Arinze Ifeakandu has won the £20,000 Swansea University Dylan Thomas prize for a “kaleidoscopic reflection of queer life and love in Nigeria”, The Guardian reports.
According to the outlet, the 28-year-old writer won the prize, one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, which recognises literary works by authors aged 39 or under.
Ifeakandu’s debut short story collection, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, features nine stories that examine queer love, family and loneliness against the backdrop of Nigerian society.
The chair of judges, books editor at BBC Audio Di Speirs, said Ifeakandu’s collection “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”.
God’s Children Are Little Broken Things also won the 2022 Republic of Consciousness prize for the US and Canada and the Story prize Spotlight award. The title story, arranged in 14 mini-chapters, narrates the romance of Lotanna and Kamsi, two college boys whose relationship faces external, cultural threats.
The other shortlisted titles were Limberlost by Robbie Arnott, Seven Steeples by Sara Baume, I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel, Send Nudes by Saba Sams and Bless the Daughter Raised By a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire.
The prize was launched in 2006 in honour of esteemed Welsh poet Dylan Thomas to celebrate young writers of poetry, novels, short stories and drama in the English language. This November will mark the 70th anniversary of Thomas’s death.
Alongside Speirs, the judging panel comprised writers Jon Gower, Maggie Shipstead, Rachel Long and Prajwal Parajuly. Shipstead won the Dylan Thomas prize in 2012, and Parajuly was shortlisted in 2013.
In 2022, Patricia Lockwood won the award for her debut novel about internet culture, No One Is Talking About This. Past winners also include Raven Leilani, Bryan Washington, Guy Gunaratne, Kayo Chingonyi, Fiona McFarlane and Max Porter.