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Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 reveals diverse and inclusive shortlist of bold new voices

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The shortlist for one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – is announced today, featuring a raft of bold new voices that challenge expectations in a compelling exploration of survival, identity, belonging and what it means to be ‘other’ in our world today.

Comprising of five novels and one short story collection, including four debuts and four women, the shortlist is:

  • Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat (Picador) – short story collection (Syria/USA)
  • Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel (USA)
  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber) – novel (Nigeria/USA)
  • Pew by Catherine Lacey (Granta) – novel (USA)
  • Luster by Raven Leilani (Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – novel (USA)
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (HarperCollins, 4th Estate) – novel (USA)

Among the contenders for this prestigious £20,000 prize are two of the most talked about breakout novels of recent times: New York City native Raven Leilani has been recognised for the brutal and brilliant Luster, her razor-sharp debut about what it means to be a black millennial woman in America; and Kate Elizabeth Russell has been chosen by the judges for her darkly shocking exploration of an abusive relationship and sexual consent in My Dark Vanessa, an era-defining novel described as “a package of dynamite” by Stephen King.

The two further debut voices in contention are Texan Rye Curtis and Kingdomtide, his story of suspense and resilience that combines an enthralling narrative of two unforgettable characters with vivid nature writing, and Syria born and Manchester based Dima Alzayat, whose first short story collection – Alligator and Other Stories – captures how it feels to be ‘other’ whilst at home: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant, as a woman.

The final novelists completing the line-up are one of Granta Magazine’s Best Young American Novelists Catherine Lacey for her third novel Pew, a foreboding, captivating and fearlessly astute fable revolving around a silent stranger found sleeping in the church of a small American town; and Igbo and Tamil, non-binary author Akwaeke Emezi and their boundary breaking New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji, a visceral yet tender exploration into gender, family and selfhood.

The six-strong shortlist was selected by a judging panel chaired by award-winning writer, publisher and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Namita Gokhale alongside founder and director of the Bradford Literature Festival, Syima Aslam, poet Stephen Sexton, writer Joshua Ferris and novelist and academic Francesca Rhydderch.

This year’s winner will be revealed at a virtual ceremony on 13 May, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.

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Namita Gokhale, Chair of Judges, said: “We are thrilled to present this year’s extraordinary shortlist – it is truly a world-class writing showcase of the highest order from six exceptional young writers. I want to press each and every one of these bold, inventive and distinctive books into the hands of readers, and celebrate how they challenge preconceptions, ask new questions about how we define identity and our relationships, and how we live together in this world. Congratulations to these tremendously talented writers – they are master storytellers in every sense of the word.”


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Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

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Dafen-based Llanelli Motor Company have broken ground on a new development that will see their forecourt double in size over the coming months.

Led by Managing Director Ian Jonathan, the two-phase project will see the independent car dealership increase the number of used vehicles it has on sale to over 400 by January 2023.

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“It’s certainly an exciting period for the business,” said Ian, “and with the significant changes to the used car market, we felt now was the right time to start the project, which has been in the pipeline for over five years.”

Although the business was potentially looking at 2020 as a start date for the developments, the Coronavirus Pandemic put the brakes on the project.

However, since the easing of lockdown restrictions and the delay in obtaining new vehicles, the used car market has seen an unprecedented spike in demand.

Dafen based Llanelli Motor Company is planning to double in size
The company have broken ground on an expansion that will see over 400 cars on sale by the end of January 2023

“The last 12 months have been exceptionally busy,” continued Ian.

“No sooner are we finalising our 140-point safety check on vehicles before placing them on the forecourt, than they are being purchased within a matter of days”.

With the ability to stock 150 nearly new vehicles of all makes and models at the moment, the 1-acre expansion will increase this to 250 by September before more than doubling it to 400 by the spring of 2023.

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In order to facilitate this growth, the company will also be entering a recruitment phase and looking to employ at least 10 new members of staff across its sales, workshop and admin teams as well as taking on new apprenticeships.

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Lifestyle

Swansea man’s delight as he scoops combined £37,000 cash-and-car prize

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A Swansea man who was feeling lucky during the working week was left in a state of delighted disbelief on finding out he had won a combined £37,000 cash-and-car prize with online competitions company BOTB.

Anthony Brain from Swansea could not believe his luck when BOTB’s Christian Williams picked up the phone to let him know he was the winner of its Midweek Lifestyle competition.

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Anthony, who works for Swansea-based automotive products company Marelli, scooped a brand new BMW 128ti, as well as a cash prize of £2,000.

After recovering from his initial shock, Anthony said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable – I’m over-the-moon and still on a real high from it. It’s rare that I take part in the Midweek Lifestyle Competition – I think I’ve only entered it once or twice before – but I was feeling lucky during the working week, so thought ‘why not?’ When I got the call to say I’d won, I was stunned.

“Being a car enthusiast, I’m really excited about winning the car but the cash is brilliant too. We’ve already booked some holidays with some of the winnings, including to Italy and Florida. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.”

Anthony said his prize win has prompted colleagues to throw their hat in the ring and give BOTB’s competitions a go.

He added: “The thing is you’ve got to be in it to win it – and I think once you know someone who has won, you feel more hopeful that you could be in with a chance. I’d encourage anyone thinking about entering to try it for themselves.”

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Other recent winners have bagged a motorbike, a luxury holiday to Barbados and £15,000 in cash. 

The company, listed on the stock market, was founded by William Hindmarch in 1999 and has given away more than £47m worth of cars so far. 

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Food & Drink

Winner winner, weekday dinners: Morrisons introduces midweek dinners for under a fiver in its cafés

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Amidst the cost of living crisis, supermarket giant Morrisons is introducing a ‘meal of the day’ for under a fiver to its cafés nationwide.

Every weekday from 3pm, a ‘Daily Special’ will be discounted, offering a saving of up to £3.89 on the individual product price.

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The meal on offer will rotate each day and customers can choose from British roast chicken served with chips and coleslaw, a hearty chicken tikka masala, a 9-piece breakfast brunch, a succulent British cheeseburger served with chips and coleslaw and the ultimate beer-battered fish and chips.

The offer includes a drink and vegetarian alternatives are also available.

Each meal will be priced at £4.99, which the supermarket chain says makes them cheaper than the same evening meals at Wetherspoons, Harvester and Beefeater.

Morrisons also say that kids can also eat free all day with the purchase of any adult meal, meaning a family of four can enjoy a meal out together for just £9.98.

Ali Lyons, Head of Morrisons Cafés, says: “We know how hard it is for our customers at the moment and we want to make sure they are still able to enjoy a meal out, even on a budget. We’ve handpicked these favourites so that no matter what day it is, our customers can enjoy a saving.”

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Morrisons £4.99 offer will be available in its 406 cafés nationwide after 3pm every weekday. The ‘Daily Specials’ on offer are:

MondayRoast Chicken served with Chips & Coleslaw or Cheese & Onion Quiche served with Chips & Coleslaw 
TuesdayChicken Tikka Masala or Mac ‘n’ Cheese 
WednesdayBreakfast Brunch or Full Vegetarian Breakfast 
ThursdayCheeseburger served with Chips & Coleslaw  or Vegetarian burger served with Chips & Coleslaw 
FridayUltimate Fish & Chips

(Lead image: Morrisons)

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