Yelena Moskovich’s Virtuoso on the Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

24 January 2020

‘Hypnotic … a bold feminist novel’ @tls
‘Arrestingly self-assured … hard to resist’ @guardian 

Now longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, Yelena Moskovich’s Virtuoso has bewitched a hoard of readers since its hardback publication a year ago. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Zorka. She had eyebrows like her name.

1980s Prague. For Jana, childhood means ration queues and the smell of boiled potatoes on the grey winter air. But just before Jana’s seventh birthday, a raven-haired girl named Zorka moves into her building.

As the first cracks appear in the communist regime, Zorka teaches Jana to look beyond their building, beyond Prague, beyond Czechoslovakia … and then, Zorka disappears. Jana, now an interpreter in Paris for a Czech medical supply company, hasn’t seen her in a decade.

As Jana and Zorka’s stories slowly circle across the past and present, 1980s Prague, the suburbs of 1990s Wisconsin and the lesbian bars of present-day Paris, they lead inexorably to a mysterious door on the Rue de Prague …

Follow Yelena Moskovich on Twitter and Instagram

THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE 

The longlist for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize has been revealed, featuring an international collection of young, experimental writers offering platforms for under-represented voices and exploring pressing social and world themes across identity, culture and power.

Celebrating the prize’s 15th anniversary, acclaimed Indian feminist writer and novelist Meena Kandasamy, Hong Kong born LGBTQ+ poet Mary Jean Chan, Ukrainian-born artist and writer Yelena Moskovich, Brazilian-British début novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler, Vietnamese-American novelist Ocean Vuong, and Belgrade-born Orange Prize-winner Téa Obreht are among the 12 authors on the longlist for the £30,000 prize. This year’s longlist comprises seven novels, three poetry collections and two short story collections.
 
Surge by Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus); Flèche by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber); Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy (Atlantic Books) are in the running alongside Things we say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan (Harvell Secker, Vintage); Black Car Burning by Helen Mort (Chatto & Windus) and Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich (Serpent’s Tail). 

Inland by Téa Obreht (Weidenfeld & Nicolson); Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler (Fleet) and If All the World and Love were Young by Stephen Sexton (Penguin Random House) have also been longlisted. 

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay (Atlantic Books); On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Jonathan Cape, Vintage) and Lot by Bryan Washington (Atlantic Books) complete the list. 
 
Worth £30,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. 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 12 longlisted titles will be judged by a bumper guest panel chaired by Swansea University’s professor Dai Smith CBE, including annual judge professor Kurt Heinzelman, the award-winning writer and founder of Jaipur Literature Festival Namita Gokhale, acclaimed writer and 2011 winner of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize  Lucy Caldwell, the British-Ghanaian writer, poet and critic Bridget Minamore, celebrated writer and presenter of BBC Radio 3: The Verb Ian McMillan, and national arts and culture journalist Max Liu.

Guy Gunaratne won the prize in 2029 for his début novel In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press). He said: “Dylan Thomas has always meant a lot to me, he’s a writer I’ve always turned to for inspiration. And after winning this prize, my mind just goes to all the other writers, or aspiring writers, who are writing from a place like where I began. A place like Neasden, somewhere I always thought was a nowhere place. But to make art out of the world, the language, the voices I grew up around I always felt was important.”
 
The shortlist will be announced on 7th April, followed by a British Library Event, London on the 13th May and Winner’s Ceremony held in Swansea on International Dylan Thomas Day, 14th May