LONDON - American author Maggie Shipstead won the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers on Friday for her debut novel "Seating Arrangements," a social satire that seeks to lay bare the pretensions of old-money, New England society.

Shipstead, born in 1983, was one of five shortlisted authors for the award, which comes with a 30,000 pound ($50,000) check.

"The winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize before she's 30, the smart money has to be on Maggie Shipstead winning a Pulitzer before she's 50," said novelist Allison Pearson, who was on the judging panel.

"Shipstead has imagined herself inside the head of a 59-year-old male in the grip of an erotic infatuation," she added. "This is territory that has been covered by the greats of American fiction, including John Updike and Jane Smiley.