Five women are among the six young writers shortlisted for this year's £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize.
The six were selected from 16 writers under 30 who made the longlist.
Prof Peter Stead, founder of the prize which honours the Swansea-born poet, said the judges were "both surprised and pleased" to see the final six are mainly women.
The winner will be announced on 1 December.
The Dylan Thomas prize started out in 2006 as a £60,000 one awarded every two years, but in 2010 it has changed to an annual competition.
The shortlisted six are from five continents and make up what is the prize's most diverse one to date.
The six works consist of two poetry collections and four novels and cover topics ranging from war and family to love and betrayal.
Peter Florence, Hay Literary Festival founder, who is chair of the prize judging panel said: "There's incredible diversity of culture, experience and geography her.
"I'm thrilled at the quality and range of the shortlisted books, but what's most exciting for the jury is that at this stage they're all equally favoured, and everyone's in with a shout."
The first Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006 was won by Welsh writer Rachel Tresize, while the 2008 winner was Nam Le, originally from Vietnam.
Earlier this year it was announced that the prize would move to an annual award.
Judge Prof Stead said the prize is "gaining momentum year on year.
"Regardless of gender, this is an outstanding shortlist that, in my opinion, rivals that of the world's best-known literary awards.
"What strikes me this year is the sheer readability and accessibility of these books.
"They are great books; books to be read and enjoyed by all readers and not least by young people."
The judging panel also includes actress Kate Burton, daughter of the late Richard Burton, Cardiff-born poet and journalist Gwyneth Lewis, who was the first National Poet of Wales, and Prof Kurt Heinzelman, from the University of Texas.
The award is open to any published writer in English who is under 30.