John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010

Latest update 'This prize was closed in 2011'

The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize closed in 2011. This Prize highlighed and celebrated the best new books by writers under 35.


Do contact Claire Shanahan, the Prizes and Awards Manager, if you have any questions or suggestions.

  • Winner

    The Still Point

    Amy Sackville
    Portobello Books

    Amy Sackville demonstrates that she is the mistress of narrative and structure in this stunningly crafted tale of icebergs and splintering marriages.

The winner was Amy Sackville for The Still Point

Like Evie Wyld, who won the award in 2009 for After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, Amy Sackville is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Still Point is part Arctic adventure, part haunting love story. When Edward Mackley vanishes during a doomed attempt to reach the North Pole at the turn of the twentieth century, he leaves behind a young wife, Emily. She stoically awaits his return for 60 years, sacrificing her own dreams as she preserves Edward's memory.

A hundred years later, on a hot summer day, Emily's great-grand-niece Julia makes her own exploration through the family house she has inherited a virtual memorial to Edward. As Julia trawls through Edwardís diary she sinks into depression and towards an old family secret that forces her to reassess her own relationship and desires. 

Read an interview with Amy

Critics have hailed Sackville's 'beautifully restrained prose' and the 'startling originality of her voice'.

Claire Allfree, chair of judges said: 

 We are thrilled that Amy Sackville has won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize this year with her debut novel The Still Point. Her ambitious, beautifully constructed book encapsulates all the qualities of a young, emerging writer that the Prize seeks to celebrate: it has a huge imaginative scope, it tells its story in unexpected, subtle ways and her use of language took our breath away. She is a writer of seemingly limitless promise and, amid some tough competition, a thoroughly deserving winner.

Fellow judge Bidisha commented:

 The Still Point is a work of art and a statement of the seriousness, intelligence, craft and imagination of its young author. It's astonishing that such a poised and deep work should be a first novel but there it is. We felt that, from this breathtaking starting point, Sackville could go successfully in any direction she likes, so assured is her voice and so limitless her vision. This is why, in the decades to come, when she has won dozens of other awards internationally, we want people to say, "You know the John Llewellyn Rhys people spotted her first."

About the shortlist

The 2010 shortlist highlighted six remarkably varied voices, comprising two works of non-fiction, a poetry collection and three novels.

The three debut books in the shortlist all featured epic journeys into personal history: to the Arctic, across Africa by foot and through the skies above Europe.

Daniel Swift’s Bomber County is an account of the author’s research into the life of his grandfather – an RAF pilot shot down during the World War II. It is also an examination of the links between that campaign of destruction and the poetry that it inspired. Nadifa Mohamed’s Black Mamba Boy was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction earlier this year. It too has the World War II as its backdrop, telling the story of one boy’s journey from his home town across Africa and beyond in search of his father. In Amy Sackville’s debut novel, The Still Point (also longlisted for the Orange Prize) a doomed arctic expedition set at the turn of the twentieth century intertwines with the unwinding of a relationship set a hundred years later.    

Kei Miller’s collection of poetry, A Light Song of Light, grapples with the recent economic recession, family tragedy and how to continue making art in dark times. Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine is a vehement rebuttal of the use of pseudo-science to reinforce the sexual divide. Susan Fletcher’s novel Corrag is the story of a devastating historic event – the Massacre of Glencoe – featuring an extraordinary central character.  


Chair of Judges Claire Allfree commented:

 We’re very proud that the books on this year’s list are so thought-provoking, imaginative and diverse. The range of voices across the list is truly invigorating - from an epic lyrical novel set in 17th-century Scotland to poetry from Jamaica and a creative piece of non-fiction that combines personal history with some fascinating literary criticism. We’re particularly pleased to have two debut novelists, with two very differently flavoured novels that range in setting between Africa in the 1930s and the 19th-century Arctic and the present day. And we’re also delighted to shortlist a ground breaking work of science that combines popular appeal with polemical argument. Together the books provide an excellent snapshot of the ambition and originality of today’s best new writers. Choosing a winner will be a daunting task.


  • Delusions of Gender

    Cordelia Fine
    Icon Books
  • Corrag

    Susan Fletcher
    Fourth Estate
  • A Light Song of Light

    Kei Miller
    Carcanet Press
  • Black Mamba Boy

    Nadifa Mohamed
  • Bomber County

    Daniel Swift


Claire Allfree, literary editor of Metro, was the chair of an illustrious panel of judges for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010.

Claire headed up a panel that included critic and broadcaster Bidisha and poet Maura Dooley to judge the best work of literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry or drama) by a UK or Commonwealth writer aged 35 years or under.

About the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010

The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, founded 69 years ago in honour of the writer John Llewellyn Rhys, who was killed in action in World War II, was open to British and Commonwealth writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, aged 35 or under, at the time of publication. The prize was worth £5,000 to the winner, with the other shortlisted authors receiving £500 each.


Read a list of every single winner since the prize began