Scottish author and journalist Cal Flyn has been named winner of the 2021 Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Trust Young Writer of the Year Award for her eerie yet ultimately optimistic account of ecological diversity, Islands of Abandonment.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the UK’s most influential prize for young writers has for three decades been a definitive indicator of rising literary talent in Britain and Ireland, recognising such names as Zadie Smith, Simon Armitage, Max Porter and Sally Rooney in the early stages of their careers. Today, Cal Flyn joins that legacy for her impressive work Islands of Abandonment, which was previously shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and the Wainwright Conservation Award. It 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.

The announcement was made on 24 February in the Library's Reading Room, in a warmly celebrated return to in-person prize ceremonies. The event was hosted by The Sunday Times’ Literary Editor Andrew Holgate, alongside 2021 judges Andrew O’Hagan, Tahmima Anam, Claire Lowdon and Gonzalo C. Garcia, as well as Chair of the Charlotte Aitken Trust, novelist Sebastian Faulks.

As well as hosting the event, we are also pleased to be offering a year of Library membership to the shortlisted writers and two years of membership for Cal Flyn.