New Welsh Review is delighted to announce the shortlists for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 which this year sought entries across two categories: the Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella, run in association with Aberystwyth University, and the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting, which was made possible thanks to the generous support of long-term subscriber Richard Powell.
The Awards were set up in 2015 to champion the best short-form writing. Last year, the winner of the Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection was Ed Garland for Fiction as a Hearing Aid which New Welsh Review will publish on 31 October 2019.
The dystopian novella shortlist spotlights three women writers from Wales – Rosey Brown, JL George and Rhiannon Lewis – who present dystopian novellas in turn about a Britain besieged by floods, a teenage duo who are on the run and a Welsh heroine who is searching for the reason behind mass disappearances. Whilst among the highly commended entries, we discover characters trying to remake themselves in a south Wales turned upside down by The Unpleasantness in Dewi Heald’s novella; in Thomas Pitt’s The Chosen we follow an Amish community trying to survive war in a mash-up of period sci-fi and dystopia and finally in Heledd Williams’ Water, Water, Nowhere… the author merges and art heist with a water shortage to present an entertaining and fast-paced quick read.
Meanwhile, in the Rheidol category for writing with a Welsh theme or setting, the varied shortlist includes a non-fiction account of climbing in the quick-drying slate quarries of North Wales in the 1980s by Peter Goulding, a memoir set in 1990s Newport club scene penned by Richard John Parfitt and Sarah Tanburn’s vision of a future Wales where North-African Hawk training and horse racing are closely intertwined. Over on the highly commended list, we hear from Marilyn Barlow whose account of keeping a smallholding in Ceredigion is counter-pointed with her upbringing in war-torn Rhodesia, Mark Blayney who presents an inter-war novella set in a Jewish community in Cardiff and Elizabeth Griffiths whose essays about Wales and its literatures are both brimming with integrity and depth.
Three writers in each category, both new and established are now in the running for the top prizes of £1,000. They are as follows.
Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella – Shortlist (in alphabetical order)
Rosey Brown (Cardiff, Wales) Adrift
JL George (Pontypool, Wales) The Word
Rhiannon Lewis (Abergavenny, Wales) The Significance of Swans
Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting – Shortlist (in alphabetical order)
Peter Goulding (Thetford, England) On Slate (Non-fiction)
Richard John Parfitt (Penarth, Wales) Tales from the Riverbank (Non-fiction)
Sarah Tanburn (Penarth, Wales) Hawks of Dust and Wine (Fiction)
New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies once again judged the Awards with help from students from Aberystwyth University for the dystopian novella category and co-judged with the prize-winning Ceredigion author Cynan Jones for the Rheidol Prize.
Gwen says: “I am delighted that in this fifth year of our competition, yet again, women form the majority of our nominees, and that this year, in both the category dedicated to writing about or set in Wales and in the dystopian category, writers from Wales dominate. Nonfiction predominates in the Rheidol Prize, with popular cultural accounts, both set in the mid-twentieth century, of (respectively) Snowdonia’s dole-claiming slate rock climbers and of Newport’s music scene by a founder-member of the 60ft Dolls. Meanwhile, in the dystopian prize, we are proud to present novellas ranging from a gay coming-of-age story in a flooded landscape, and an exploration of ethics, language and propaganda.”
Louise Marshall, Head of the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University says, “Thanks to our long-standing association with New Welsh Review our staff and students have, once again, been delighted to be involved in the New Welsh Writing Awards. Assisting in the long- and short-listing process is an incredible opportunity for our students to participate directly in the celebration of the very best new writing from around the world. Aberystwyth University and the Department of English and Creative Writing are proud to sponsor the 2019 Awards and we await with great anticipation to hear about the winners later this month.”
The winners will be announced at an event at a ceremony at the Summer House in Hay Festival on Friday 24 May from 3.00 – 5.00 pm.
Both winners will receive £1,000 cash each as advance against e-publication by New Welsh Review under their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint and a positive critique each by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown. Second prizes are a £300 voucher towards a week-long residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales, and third prizes are a two-night stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales. The top six shortlisted authors will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition, New Welsh Review will publish the highly commended and shortlisted nominees for publication in the autumn and winter 2019 editions of its creative magazine New Welsh Reader with an associated standard fee.
The Awards are open to all writers based in the UK and Ireland plus those who live overseas who have been educated in Wales.
The 2019 Awards are sponsored by Aberystwyth University, the core sponsor and host of New Welsh Review, and the longstanding subscriber Richard Powell. The Awards are run in partnership with Curtis Brown, Gladstone’s Library and Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. New Welsh Review is supported through core funding by the Welsh Books Council.
For more details on the Awards and for interview requests please contact
Julia Forster: firstname.lastname@example.org