The Wales Book of the Year Award 2012 Short List

On Thursday 10 May at a star-studded event at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon Literature Wales announced the nine English and nine Welsh-language titles to have reached the Wales Book of the Year Award 2012 Short List.

This year, categories are introduced for the first time. Three titles have been short-listed in each three category: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction (Welsh Short List below). The three poetry collections to have reached the short list are Catulla Et Al (Bloodaxe Books) by Tiffany Atkinson, a collection of poems which summon up the sensual and scandalous spirit of the Latin poet Catullus with one foot in a recognisable “real world” while still bending it out of shape; Deep Field (Bloodaxe Books) by Philip Gross, a collection of deeply felt and deeply thought poems about the poet’s father’s loss of his several languages, first to deafness, then profound aphasia; the third publication in this category is Sparrow Tree (Bloodaxe Books) by Gwyneth Lewis, a highly inventive collection that puts nature writing in a spin and launches into flights of avian fancy or fantasy on several levels.

The three titles in the Fiction category this year are Wild Abandon (Hamish Hamilton) by Joe Dunthorne, a novel which delves into the lives of brother and sister Albert and Kate on their communal farm in South Wales, which involve preparation for the end of the world and a 10k sound system;  The Keys of Babylon (Seren) by Robert Minhinnick, a collection of interlinked short stories which look all over the world at people who are on the move, searching for a better life, and comes to a crescendo as the individual narratives are drawn together at the same hour on one momentous day; and The Last Hundred Days (Seren) by Patrick McGuinness, the author’s first novel which takes the reader to Bucharest in 1989, a world of danger, repression and corruption, but also of intensity and ravaged beauty.

The three titles in the Creative Non-Fiction category are Ghost Milk (Hamish Hamilton) by Iain Sinclair, a work which explores the grandest of Grand Projects – the giant myth that is 2012’s London Olympics as the author deems it, and a statement on the throwaway impermanence of the present; The Vagabond’s Breakfast (Alcemi) by Richard Gwyn, a memoir which is an account of his “lost” year; of addiction and reckless travel; love and fatherhood; recovery; living with viral hepatitis, and the life-saving gift of a liver graft. Last, but not least, is Byron Rogers’ Three Journeys (Gomer), a part reminiscence, part gazetteer, part portrait gallery, and turns on Byron Rogers’s experiences of growing up in, and leaving, Wales.

Spencer Jordan, Chair of the English-language Judging Panel said: “Without a doubt this has been the hardest Wales Book of the Year to adjudicate. The quality of the writing has been astounding. Submissions have come from some of the biggest names in fiction. But we’ve also had the best of the ‘new’ writers. Actually arriving at just three authors in each category has been a monumental task. But, with a lot of discussion, and reading, we’ve done it.

Looking at the nine short-listed books, what emerges is the breadth of the work. Wales Book of the Year should be about passion, ambition and talent, and the short-listed authors have it in bucket loads.”

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “The Wales Book of the Year 2012 Short List reflects the quality of the writing that is published here in Wales today; three categories and nine authors who deserve recognition for their work. This Award gives a voice to those who write diligently and quietly throughout the year so let’s celebrate their achievement and most importantly, read their words.”

The titles on the Welsh-language Short List are, in the Poetry category, Siarad Trwy’i Het (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas) by Karen Owen, Waliau’n Canu (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch) by Ifor ap Glyn, and Rhwng Gwibdaith a Coldplay by Gerwyn Wiliams. The three titles in the Fiction category are Neb Ond Ni (Gomer) by Manon Rhys, Y Storïwr by Jon Gower and Pantglas by Mihangel Morgan, and in the Creative Non-Fiction category the three titles were Kate: Cofiant Kate Roberts 1891 – 1985 (Y Lolfa) by Alan Llwyd, John Morris-Jones (Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru) by Allan James and Hen Enwau O Arfon, Llŷn ac Eifionydd (Gwasg y Bwthyn) by Glenda Carr.

The Wales Book of the Year Award Winner will be announced in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff on Thursday 12 July 2012 at 7.00 pm. For more information and to book tickets contact Literature Wales: 029 2047 2266 / post@literaturewales.org

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