Congratulating Sheila on the award, Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:
“What a tremendous accolade the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is for Sheila Llewellyn and her second novel from Sceptre, Winter in Tabriz. That this magisterial and moving imagining of Iran in the revolutionary period of the late 1970s, with its surprising and exhilarating dramas of love and repression among young people embroiled in extraordinary world events, has been recognised with this inaugural prize, is testament to Llewellyn’s vivid place-making and exquisite phrasing.
“The prize recognises an author who is focusing on the experience of travel away from home, and Winter in Tabriz sustains Llewellyn’s compassion for people under the pressure of circumstance, commitment and suffering. Congratulations to all involved in this wonderful novel, especially Sheila, from all at Arts Council NI.”
Caroline Brothers, Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize judge, said:
‘The novel stood out for the sophistication of its engagement with a country in upheaval, for its exploration of the risks and price of resistance, and for its honesty about being a foreigner with an escape route from someone else’s history. It is a novel that takes no easy fictional solutions, but speaks hard-won truths about the way seismic change reverberates upon even the least political of lives.’
Sheila Llewellyn was born in England, of Welsh heritage, and has dual British/Irish citizenship. She has worked in Africa, Iran, Singapore, Germany and Russia. She completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast in 2016. Her first novel, Walking Wounded, was published in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Society of Authors’ Paul Torday Memorial Prize. Her short stories have been published in various anthologies and shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award twice, the Sean Ó Faoláin Prize and the Bridport Prize. She also won the RTÉ Radio One P.J. O’Connor Prize for Radio Drama.
The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is awarded to a UK or Irish writer, or a writer currently resident in those countries, for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home.
You can watch the award ceremony online from 7.00pm on Wednesday 1st June 2022 on the Society of Authors’ livestream.