Bryan Washington has been named the 2020 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize winner for his story collection LOT.
In LOT, Washington explores his hometown of Houston—a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America—where the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.
Around him, others live and thrive and die in Houston’s myriad neighborhoods: a young woman whose affair detonates across an apartment complex, a ragtag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, hurricane survivors, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, a reluctant chupacabra.
Bryan Washington’s brilliant, viscerally drawn world vibrates with energy, wit, raw power, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot explores trust and love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.
Swansea University Professor Dai Smith CBE, chair of the judging panel, said: “Bryan Washington’s collection of short stories, LOT, does what all great fiction does, finds a style that can open up a world that is otherwise unknowable and he does it with wit and grace. It is a real voice, unique, unforgettable, generous, and warm and one which provides us with a sense of community and the full experience of life. As one of the judges said, he has a kickass voice.”
The Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded to the best published literary work of fiction (including poetry, novels, short stories, and drama) written by an author aged 39 or under in the English language. Washington has received £30,000 as part of his prize.
Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, GQ, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.
In response to his award, Washington said: “It’s a gift whenever an audience gives you the time of day for a story, whatever that is, let alone to be acknowledged for your work on such a massive platform. And it’s an honor to tell stories about the communities that are dear to me, and the communities that I live among—marginalized communities, communities of color, and queer communities of color, specifically. . . . I’m very grateful.”
Washington’s novel, Memorial, will be available this October.