Maggie Shipstead Wins Dylan Thomas Prize

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Posted 11.26.12 by Prize Reporter

American fiction writer Maggie Shipstead was recently named the winner of the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers, an annual award of £30,000 (approximately $48,000) given by the University of Wales to a writer under the age of thirty.

Shipstead, twenty-eight, won the prize for her debut novel, Seating Arrangements (Knopf, 2012). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, she lives in Coronado, California.

About Seating Arrangements, which turns a satirical eye toward New England wealth and family, author and prize judge Allison Pearson says, “At the age of twenty-eight, Maggie Shipstead has imagined herself inside the head of a fifty-nine-year-old male in the grip of an erotic infatuation. This is territory that has been covered by the greats of American fiction, including John Updike and Jane Smiley. Maggie Shipstead doesn’t just follow in their footsteps; she beats a distinctive and dazzling path of her own. The world has found a remarkable, humane new voice to explain us to ourselves.”

Established in 2006, the Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers, is given internationally for a book written in English and published in the previous year. The shortlist for the prize also included Tom Benn for The Doll Princess (Jonathan Cape), Andrea Eames for The White Shadow (Random House), Chibundu Onuzo for The Spider King’s Daughter (Faber & Faber), and D.W. Wilson for Once You Break A Knuckle (Bloomsbury).

Previous winners include Lucy Caldwell for her novel The Meeting Point (Faber & Faber, 2011), Elyse Fenton for her poetry collection Clamour (Cleveland State University, 2010), Nam Le for his short story collection The Boat (Knopf, 2008), and Rachel Trezise, whose short story collection Fresh Apples (Parthian Books) received the inaugural prize in 2006. For more information on the Dylan Thomas Prize, visit the website

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