Dylan Thomas Prize: New Yorker Raven Leilani wins accolade

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image copyrightNina Subin
image captionRaven Leilani has been named the winner of this year's Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize

New York writer Raven Leilani has won this year's £20,000 Dylan Thomas Prize.

The prestigious Swansea University award is one of the world's largest literary prizes for young writers.

The 30-year-old was named the winner at a virtual ceremony for her debut novel Luster.

It had already been chosen by former US president Barack Obama as one of his favourite books of the last year, and was described as "fearless" by British writer Zadie Smith.

Speaking for the judging panel, Indian author Namita Gokhale said Leilani's book on what it means to be a black millennial woman in the US was "accomplished".

"This is an important, uncomfortable book, in turns funny and angry, and always compelling," she said.

"Raven Leilani is an astonishingly original new voice."

The writer was the judges' unanimous choice for the prize, which is awarded for the best published literary work in the English language by an author aged 39 or under.

"We cannot wait to see what comes next from this uncompromising talent," added Gokhale.

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