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Kevin Powers wins Oxfam Emerging Writer Prize at Hay Festival

Posted by Sophie Bowell

30th May 2013

Kevin Powers, winner of the Oxfam Emerging Writer Prize

The winner of Oxfam's Emerging Writer Prize was today announced as author Kevin Powers at the Hay Festival 2013. Launched in 2009, the Oxfam prize is awarded annually to an up-and-coming writer of exceptional promise and originality. Powers is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Yellow Birds, published in September 2012 by Sceptre and the winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2012. The Yellow Birds portrays the psychological impact of war and is already being hailed as a modern classic.

Kevin will be presented with a first edition of Joseph Heller's bestselling novel Catch 22 at a ceremony at the festival on Saturday 1 June where he will also be discussing his writing with Jenny Valentine at 11.30am.

Oxfam's Head of Retail, Sarah Farquhar, who will be presenting Kevin with his prize, said: "Books are at the heart of Oxfam's shops and play a vital part in raising money for Oxfam's work fighting poverty around the world. It's wonderful to be at Hay celebrating books and I look forward to awarding the Oxfam Emerging Writer Prize to Kevin Powers. Kevin is a real talent and well deserved winner."

Commenting on the award Kevin Powers said: "I would like to express my profound gratitude to Oxfam for this honour. To have my writing recognised by an organisation that has made such a meaningful and measurable difference in the world is extraordinarily humbling. I will take their support in my potential with me as I continue to learn and grow as a writer, and keep it as a guard against cynicism and complacency. My sincere thanks again to Oxfam for this recognition. I will try my damnedest to be equal to it."

Peter Florence, Hay Festival director said: "The Yellow Birds deepens our understanding of what the Iraq War means on a human level in the same way the Great War poets tell us truths about 1914-18."

Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar.  The paperback edition of his debut novel The Yellow Birds will be published in the UK on 27 June 2013.

Blog post written by Sophie Bowell

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