5 December 2019
British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus has been named winner of the 2019 Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award for his critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning debut The Perseverance.
The award marks an unprecedented year of honours for the 33-year old writer from Hackney, east London. The Perseverance, published by the small press Penned in the Margins, has already won the Ted Hughes Prize, the Rathbones Folio Prize, and the SoA’s Somerset Maugham Award, and was shortlisted for numerous others. The announcement was made at a ceremony at The London Library tonight.
Ranging across history and continents, the collection explores issues as wide-ranging as the poet ’s diagnosis with deafness as a child, mixed heritage experience, masculinity, and his father ’s alcoholism and later decline into dementia.
The judges said…
Judge Kate Clanchy said: “The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award is special because it looks to the future: we wanted to find a writer who both speaks for now and who we were confident would continue to produce valuable, central work. Raymond Antrobus’ s The Perseverance draws together the worlds of performance and page poetry and speaks for his Jamaican British heritage and his d/Deaf communities in a way that is completely contemporary; but it was the humanity of the book, its tempered kindness, and its commitment not just to recognising difference but to the difficult act of forgiveness that made us confident we had found a winner for this extraordinary year.”
Judge Victoria Hislop said: “Raymond Antrobus takes us into a world unknown to most of us… a silent world where words have new meanings and often greater weight. He writes in a very personal way and one which really affects an open-hearted reader and I am excited about what he will write in the future.”
Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, said: “What’s most impressive about Raymond’s book is the way he so subtly weaves his disparate themes together – about deafness, his Anglo-Carribean heritage, his relationship with his father – into a collection that is both very personal and immensely resonant. The result is a memoir in verse very, very affecting and fresh.”
About the award
The judges chose Antrobus from a shortlist that also contained The White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield, British-Brazilian novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler, and writer and Creative Writing teacher Kim Sherwood.
This is the first year the University of Warwick – home to the acclaimed Warwick Writing Programme – acts as the title sponsor of the prize, following two years as its associate partner.
The winner package includes a bespoke 10-week residency at the University of Warwick, in addition to £5,000 in prize money. New in 2019 is a year’s membership of The London Library, which will be given to the winner, as well as the three shortlisted writers.
Administered by the Society of Authors, the Young Writer of the Year Award, the award recognises the best literary work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer of 35 and under. Click here to find out more