LONDON (AP) — Australian writer Fiona McFarlane has won the Dylan Thomas Prize for young literary talents with her globe-trotting volume of short stories, "The High Places."

McFarlane won the 30,000 pound ($39,000) award at a ceremony in Swansea, Wales.

Named for the late Welsh poet, the prize is open to fiction by English-language writers aged 39 or under. Thomas, author of "Under Milk Wood," was 39 when he died in 1953.

McFarlane is 39 and "High Places" is her second book. The stories' characters include a middle-aged couple on a disastrous holiday and a scientist living on an island with a giant squid and the ghost of Charles Darwin.

Dai Smith, who chaired the judging panel, on Wednesday called the stories "haunting in their oddity and moving in their human empathy."