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Young Writer of the Year Award

The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award is awarded for a full-length published or self-published (in book or ebook formats) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by an author aged 18 – 35 years. The winner receives £10,000. There are three prizes of £1000 each for runners-up. The winning book will be a work of outstanding literary merit. The award is an annual prize, sponsored by the Sunday Times and the Charlotte Aitken Trust. The prize is administered by the Society of Authors.

The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award is awarded for the previous year, for example in 2022 the 2021 Award will be voted for, and announced.

WINNER 2021

This is a book about abandoned places: ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man's lands and fortress islands - and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its place. In Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster, only a handful of people returned to their dangerously irradiated homes. On an uninhabited Scottish island, feral cattle live entirely wild. In Detroit, once America's fourth-largest city, entire streets of houses are falling in on themselves, looters slipping through otherwise silent neighbourhoods. This book explores the extraordinary places where humans no longer live - or survive in tiny, precarious numbers - to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind's impact on nature is forced to stop. From Tanzanian mountains to the volcanic Caribbean, the forbidden areas of France to the mining regions of Scotland, Flyn brings together some of the most desolate, eerie, ravaged and polluted areas in the world - and shows how, against all odds, they offer our best opportunities for environmental recovery. By turns haunted and hopeful, this luminously written world study is pinned together with profound insight and new ecological discoveries that together map an answer to the big questions: what happens after we're gone, and how far can our damage to nature be undone?

- Browns Books Synopsis

“For young writers, a prize makes all the difference: not just the publicity flare, or the tag-line on the paperback jacket, but the jag of confidence it brings. Someone believes in your prose, someone has prized those sentences you spent all those years laying end to end… Nothing crushes the wish to write quite like apathy; nothing boosts it quite like being read and responded to carefully. [After winning the award in 2004] I started to think I might be able to write another book – that became The Wild Places (2007), and here I am in 2015, six books down and another underway, thinking back more than a decade to the Prize, and the huge boost it gave me.”

- Robert Macfarlane, Winner 2004