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London gang violence debut novel up for literary prize

Who They Was by Gabriel Kruaze (Dylan Thomas Prize)
Who They Was by Gabriel Kruaze (Dylan Thomas Prize)

A debut novel based on personal experience of London gang violence is up for an international book prize.

Gabriel Krauze’s “brutal novel” Who They Was is in the running for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize and was previously longlisted for the Booker Prize.

The author, now in his thirties, was drawn to a life of crime and gangs at an early age but is “recapturing his life through writing.”

Author Gabriel Krauze (Steve Turvey)

This year a record nine debut writers are up for the £20,000 prize, which is for young writers and awarded for poetry, short stories and drama, as well as novels.

Debuts also include US author Kate Elizabeth Russell and her “unflinching exploration of sexual consent” in My Dark Vanessa.

And the acclaimed debut Exciting Times by Irish writer Naoise Dolan is also on the list.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (Dylan Thomas Prize)

The prize is awarded for the best published literary work in the English language written by an author aged 39 or under.

Bryan Washington scooped the award last year for his debut short story collection LOT, “telling stories about the marginalised communities” in Houston in the US.

The shortlist is revealed in March and the winner on May 13, the eve of International Dylan Thomas Day.

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