News: New Welsh Writing Awards
Thu 1 June 2017 / / Written by Tŷ Newydd

We’re delighted to hear that the winners of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017 have been announced. Congratulations to all. We look forward to welcoming Mary Oliver and Olivia Gwyne to Tŷ Newydd as part of their prize. 


New Welsh Review, in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, announced the winners of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir, and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, at a ceremony at the Hay Festival on Thursday 1 June.

The Prizes celebrate the best in both Memoir and Novella from emerging and established writers, and received entries from both new and established writers based in Wales, England and the US. New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged both categories with the help of students from Aberystwyth University. The Novella Prize was co-judged by Welsh-American writer David Lloyd. David is the author of nine books including poetry collections, a novella and novels, and directs the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

Catherine Haines, a dual English-Australian citizen, won the Memoir Prize, for her account of a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University, entitled ‘My Oxford’. Cath Barton, from the English Midlands and now living in Abergavenny, south Wales, won the Novella Prize for her story ‘The Plankton Collector’, a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn.

Both writers were given cheques for £1,000, as well as e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint. They will also receive a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown

NWR Editor Gwen Davies said ‘In our two winning entries in the novella and memoir categories, chosen from nearly all-woman shortlists (putting our political parties to shame), healing, trauma and the fluidity of memory and experience predominate as themes.

‘On our memoir shortlist were true accounts of bad luck, eating and Cold War paranoia, all taken to extremes. From it triumphed a rigorous, philosophical case for regarding eating disorder as pilgrimage. Our four-minute animation [] of ‘My Oxford’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, uses typography to show the to-and-fro of academic discourse and the skull of Yorrick from Hamlet to illustrate Catherine’s experience of how anorexia started turning her into ‘a floating head… devoid of emotion.’

‘On our novella shortlist were dark stories of sexual abuse, grooming and escaping domineering fathers. From it triumphed a beautifully controlled mix of magical realism and nature writing about time, healing, trauma and the fluid, unreliable nature of memory. Our four-minute animation [] of ‘The Plankton Collector’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, deploys 1960s-style children’s book illustration to depict a lost natural golden world of childhood and the healing Everyman that Cath’s mysterious Plankton Collector represents.’

Second Place in the Memoir Prize was awarded to Mary Oliver for ‘The Case’, a ‘cross-genre fictionalised memoir’ that is ‘innovative, affecting, with depth of heart and breadth of research’. In the Novella Prize, Second Place was awarded to Olivia Gwyne for her story ‘The Seal’, a tale of ‘complex, nuanced characterizations and a narrative that expertly builds tension and suspense’. Mary and Olivia will both receive a weeklong residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales

Third Place in the Memoir Prize was awarded to Adam Somerset for ‘People, Places, Things: A Life With The Cold War’, a memoir that ‘paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker.’ Nicola Daly was awarded Third Place in the Novella Prize, for her ‘innovative style and the masterfully-created, surreal world’ in her novella ‘The Night Where You No Longer Live’. Both Adam and Nicola win a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales.

All twelve nominees will be published in extract form in upcoming editions of New Welsh Reader; all six shortlisted writers will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.

New Welsh Review also reminded those present of the winners of their New Welsh Readers’ Poll 2017: Best Memoir & Novella, originally announced in spring. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Vintage Books) is the winner of the Best Memoir category and received 50% of the vote. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (Faber) is the winner of the Best Novella category with 55% of the vote. Congratulations to Marjane Satrapi and Max Porter. #newwelshawards

The 2017 New Welsh Writing Awards are sponsored by Aberystwyth University, the core sponsor and host of New Welsh Review, and US online magazine and social network AmeriCymru. The Awards are run in partnership with Curtis Brown, Gladstone’s Library and Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre.

For images, more details on the Prizes, Readers’ Poll and for interview requests please contact Jamie Harris on or 07812 804505. Please note that Catherine Haines is currently in Hong Kong but is available via email and video.