AUSTIN, Texas—Welsh author Rachel Trezise, winner of the first Dylan Thomas Prize for the short story collection "Fresh Apples," will be in residence at The University of Texas at Austin March 6-8. During her stay, Trezise will give several workshops, a master class and a public reading.
"'Fresh Apples' explores the dark side of the once-vibrant coal valleys of South Wales with grim wit and unexpected humor," said English professor and noted poet Kurt Heinzelman, who also was a member of the international judging panel for the prize. "The gritty Welsh dialect used is unique in mainstream English-language literature. Though it invites comparison to the Scottish tale 'Trainspotting' and James Joyce's 'Dubliners,' Trezise's work was the most startlingly original of the six finalists representing five countries."
The £60,000 ($120,000) Dylan Thomas Prize, created to celebrate the work of the Swansea-born Welsh poet for whom the prize is named, is one of the world's highest paying literary awards. The competition is open to all published writers in the English language under the age of 30 and will be awarded biennially.
Twenty-eight-year-old winner Trezise was born in the Rhondda Valley, Wales. After graduating from Glamorgan University in 2000, her debut autobiographical novel "In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl" was published that same year. "Goldfish" tells the story of a young girl growing up in South Wales against a backdrop of sexual abuse, drugs and economic breakdown.
"We're delighted to partner with The University of Texas at Austin to introduce this talented writer to a U.S. audience," said Peter Stead, chair of the Dylan Thomas Prize board of directors. "The international reputation of UT's graduate programs in English and creative writing and impressive collection of Dylan Thomas' writings make it a natural fit for the award-winner's U.S. residency now and in years to come."
The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas holds the largest archive of Thomas' writings in the world, including manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks, photographs, proofs and drawings. The graduate program in English is ranked 19th in nation by U.S. News and World Report magazine and has hosted an array of international faculty, including alumnus and Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee (South Africa), James Kelman (Scotland), Khaled Mattawa (Libya), Aidan Higgens (Ireland), Wilson Harris (West Indies), Lynn Freed (South Africa), Carey Harrison (England), Nurruddin Farah (Somalia) and Kofi Awoonor (Ghana).
During her residency, Trezise will meet with local students at the LBJ High School Liberal Arts and Science Academy March 6. Trezise also will give a reading from "Fresh Apples" at 7 p.m. on March 8 in Calhoun 100 at The University of Texas at Austin. A map of campus is available online. The event is free and open to the public.
"I am extremely proud to be the inaugural winner of this prestigious prize which I know will encourage generations of young writers," Trezise said. "But more important, I'm looking forward to sharing a corner of Wales that is largely forgotten."
Trezise is working on her next novel, which is inspired by her travels with Welsh punk rock band, Midasuno. Learn more about the Dylan Thomas Prize.
For more information contact: Kurt Heinzelman, professor, Department of English, 512-471-6688; Jennifer McAndrew, public affairs specialist, College of Liberal Arts, 512-232-4730.