Cal Flyn announced winner of 2021 Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Trust Young Writer of the Year Award

Scottish author and journalist Cal Flyn was last night announced winner of the 2021 Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Trust Young Writer of the Year Award for her ‘exceptional’ account of ecological diversity, Islands of Abandonment (William Collins). The announcement was made by The Sunday Times‘ Literary Editor Andrew Holgate at a ceremony at the London Library.

First launched in 1991, the prize has been an early supporter of some of the brightest lights in UK literature in the last 30 years, having previously recognised authors such as Zadie Smith, Max Porter, Raymond Antrobus, Simon Armitage, Sally Rooney, and most recently, Jay Bernard, who won the 2020 award for the collection Surge

Previously shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and the Wainwright Conservation Award, Islands of Abandonment explores places in the world that have been abandoned by humans: ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man’s lands and fortress islands — and looks at what happens to these landscapes when humankind’s impact on nature is forced to stop.

Judge Andrew O’Hagan said: ‘From a very strong shortlist we chose a winner in full possession of her subject. Islands of Abandonment is a book that echoes with substance, relevance, humanity, and style. We admired the originality of Cal Flyn’s vision and for me her book amounts to a riveting kind of moral reporting, a Silent Spring for the post-Cold War world. In making her the winner of this year’s award we feel certain she will go in to produce first-rate work for many years to come. Unforgettable writers start with an unmistakeable voice, and Cal Flynn has exactly that.’

The judges chose Flyn from a shortlist of five that also included poet Rachel Long (for My Darling from the Lions), as well as novelists Megan Nolan (for her debut Acts of Desperation), Anna Beecher (for Here Comes the Miracle) and Caleb Azumah Nelson (for Open Water).

As winner of the prize, Flyn will receive £10,000, while the rest of the shortlisted authors also receive £1,000 each. Flyn will also be offered a 10-week residency by the University of Warwick, as well as two years’ membership to the London Library.

For full information on the award, visit:

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