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Themes of family separation and reconciliation on New Welsh Writing Awards 2017 longlist dominated by women

user image 2017-04-03
By: AmeriCymru
Posted in: Book News

Screenshot from 20170403 154148.png New Welsh Review in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru is delighted to announce the longlists for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

Now in its third year, the Awards were set up to champion the best short-form writing in English and has previously run non-fiction categories with the WWF Cymru Prize for Writing on Nature, won by Eluned Gramich in 2015 and the University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing, won by Mandy Sutter in 2016. The Awards 2017 opened up entries from the US and Canada for the first time in the Novella category.

Both new and established writers based in Wales, England and the US are in the running for the top prize including a joint memoir by a husband and wife. The longlist is dominated by women with 8 out of 9 women contending for the Memoir Prize and 6 out of 9 women in the running for the Novella Prize.

The memoir list includes true stories of a Canadian hobo; anorexia; a daughter’s American road-trip made to help reconcile her father and grandmother; an all-boys care-home in South Africa whose residents include a baboon; being the daughter of a Rhyl beauty competition judge, and backpacking behind the iron curtain.

Among the novellas, sexual abuse or the threat of it are among the themes; also homosexuality in a Welsh monastery; the meanings and mystery of treasures old and new; escaping the shadow of a father figure, and the enduring healing and destructive powers of archetypes and idylls.

Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir Longlist

Maria Apichella (Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk) The Red Circle

Caroline Greville (Eythorne, Nr. Dover Kent) Badger Contact

Catherine Haines (Charing, Kent) My Oxford

Liz Jones (Aberystwyth, Wales) On Shifting Sands

Sarah Leavesley (Droitwich, Worcestershire) The Myopic of Me

Mary Oliver (Newlyn, Cornwall) The Case

Amanda and Robert Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire) Boystown S.A.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths (Wrexham) Painting the Beauty Queens Orange

Adam Somerset (Aberaeron, Wales) People, Places, Things: A Life with the Cold War

AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella Longlist

Cath Barton (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales) The Plankton Collector

Rebecca Casson (Holywell, Flintshire, Wales) Infirmarian

Barbara de la Cuesta (Seaside Heights, New Jersey, US) Exiles

Nicola Daly (Chester, Cheshire) The Night Where you no Longer Live

Olivia Gwyne (Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland) The Seal

Atar Hadari (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire) Burning Poets

Joao Morais (Cardiff, Wales) Smugglers' Tunnel

Veronica Popp (Chicago, US) Sick

Mike Tuohy (Jefferson, Georgia, US) Double Nickel Jackpot


Amanda Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire) Carving Strangers

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged both categories with help from students from Aberystwyth University. The shortlist for the Novella category will now be co-judged by Welsh-American writer David Lloyd. David is the author of nine books including poetry collections and novels, and directs the Creative Writing Program at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

Gwen Davies, editor of New Welsh Review said: ‘These Awards keep going from strength to strength in their third year with a much-increased number of entries and an excellent standard of writing. Carving Strangers , a South-Africa set novel about female emancipation, wood-carving and illegal diamonds, didn’t make it to the longlist but deserves a special mention for the quality and flow of its prose. The novella category, in particular, this year offers a range of voice and expertise of style, as well as historical span, that bodes well for the future of the novella in Wales, a place that has long been a haven for the shorter form in literature.’

The shortlist will be announced at an event at The Bookshop in Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Thursday 4 May from 6.30-8pm and the winners will be announced at a ceremony at Hay Festival on Thursday 1 June from 2-4pm.

Each category winner will receive £1,000 cash, e-publication by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint and a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown. Second prize for each category is a weeklong residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales and third prize is a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales. All six winners will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition New Welsh Review will consider the highly commended and shortlisted nominees for publication in a forthcoming edition 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 AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella was also open to writers based in the US and Canada.

The 2017 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. #newwelshawards

Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir Longlist

Maria Apichella (Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk)

The Red Circle

A daughter’s Pennsylvania road-trip with her Italian-American father is taken to help reconcile him with his mother. A red and black oil painting and the father’s hospital visit frame evocative settings of forest and former coalmines, while this memoir is warmed by delightful exchanges with a cast of far-flung relatives.

Maria Apichella completed her PhD in English and Creative Writing at The University of Aberystwyth, Wales. An award-winning poet, her book Psalmody was co-winner of Eyewear’s 2015 Melita Hume Prize. Paga was a winner of the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition in 2014. She teaches English with the University of Maryland, University College, Europe. Visit her blog:

Caroline Greville (Eythorne, Nr. Dover, Kent)

Badger Contact

Twelve-year-old Maddy becomes addicted to visiting her local badger sett, while her mother gets drawn in to the politics and legalities of badger life, coming to blows at times with neighbours and farmers. Enriched with literary, folk, and natural history references.

Caroline Greville lives in a rural Kent village with her husband, four children and ever-expanding menagerie of chickens, ducks, guinea pigs and badgers. She is completing a PhD in Narrative Non-Fiction at the University of Kent, where she also works as an assistant lecturer in creative writing. She continues to teach part-time for Kent Adult Education, which she has done since completing a Masters in creative writing in 2014. During 2016 her nature writing featured in four anthologies published by Elliott and Thompson for the Wildlife Trusts.

Catherine Haines (Charing, Kent)

My Oxford

A young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University enriches a lively account of student life with literary, philosophical and existential questions. As the Cambridge Weight Plan spins out of control, a post-grad’s academic subject, ‘the mind-body problem’, goes through an existential phase to become ‘extraordinary morality’ rather than a mental health problem.

Catherine Haines is a dual English-Australian citizen. She studied Philosophy at the Australian National University and took her Masters Degree in English at the University of Oxford. Catherine currently lives in Hong Kong, and will shortly begin a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham. Her work has been published in Needle in the Hay, Cherwell and Woroni. Her debut novel, The Wicked and the Fair , is currently being circulated.

Liz Jones (Aberystwyth, Wales)

On Shifting Sands

Another true tale of family rift and reconciliation. The author was estranged as a girl from her shallow, beautiful mother, the death of whose sister Ruth damages generations. The gap between brash Merthyr Gran and Nain of Newborough couldn’t be greater. Somehow, though, between these grandmothers and the healing powers of the beautiful Ynys Môn islands, beaches and warrens, identity is forged. Innovatively framed by a ‘historical’ journal of the town.

Following her writing debut, ‘The Naughty Dog’ (which won her a gold star at her Merthyr primary school), Liz Jones has gone on to write drama and creative non-fiction, reviews, short stories and journalism ranging from Take a Break to New Welsh Review . Along the way she has raised two daughters, tried (and failed) to change the world, worked in a café-cum-bookshop, a housing association, in community development and lifelong learning. She is now a Teaching Fellow at Aberystwyth University. Liz is now working on a biography of the incredible - but forgotten - bestselling novelist, scriptwriter, actor and theatre impresario known as Oliver Sandys or Countess Barcynska.

Sarah Leavesley (Droitwich, Worcestershire)

The Myopic of Me

A forensic look at depression that flows forwards and backwards through time, painting the picture of a life through a series of snapshots. Themes and images of sight and how we see recur throughout, from photography to kaleidoscopes. An examination of the self as consistently shifting and malleable.

Sarah Leavesley is a journalist, fiction writer, poet and editor. Having lived, studied and worked across England, Wales and France, Sarah is now based in Worcestershire but considers herself an amalgamation of all the people and places she has known. Her poems have been published by the Financial Times, Guardian, The Rialto, PN Review, Magma, The Forward Book of Poetry 2016 , on county buses and in the Blackpool Illuminations. A short novella, Kaleidoscope , was published in March and her Lampshades & Glass Rivers Overton Poetry Prize 2015 pamphlet-length sequence in 2016. The Myopic of Me is her first piece of memoir. The University of Oxford modern languages graduate has postgraduate qualifications in journalism and creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Wales, Cardiff. She is also a keen swimmer, cyclist and climber.

Mary Oliver (Newlyn, Cornwall)

The Case

Jim, an emigrant from England to Canada, awaits release from a progressive mental hospital and reconciliation with his baby daughter. He is in turns hopeful migrant, stowaway, farmer, thief, hobo, rough poet and ever-loving brother. This story approaches its subject prismatically through different documentary sources, and is based on an historical character. Innovative, affecting, with depth of heart and breadth of research, this memoir rewards re-reading.

Mary Oliver was born in Clun, Shropshire and since then has lived mainly in Scotland and Cornwall. Having gained a BA and an MA in Fine Art from Reading and Falmouth Universities, she exhibited paintings and installations across the UK. Her work was collected by Carmen Callil and some were reproduced as book covers by Virago. To supplement income, she also taught for many years; from facilitating Art Workshops in Barlinnie Jail, Glasgow, to lecturing in Fine Art at Falmouth University. Mary has been writing full time since 2014 and has been had a number of prize nominations for her work.

Amanda and Robert Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire)

Boystown S.A.

Told by a husband to his writer-wife. Due to family rift and addiction, Robert Oosthuizen was brought up in South Africa by his grandmother, mother, foster homes and residential schools including the highly democratic Catholic Boystown, whose residents included a baboon. Action ranges from rugby matches, in which boots feature only occasionally, to a bizarrely set Eisteddfod, this memoir captures the presentness of childhood in which a survivor takes all in his stride.

Robert Oosthuizen moved from South Africa to the U.K. in 1977, and became a British National soon after. He is married to Amanda and they have three grown-up daughters. He has never returned to South Africa in spite of his daughters’ attempts to persuade him. He is a passionate photographer, and is thinking about joining a choir.

Amanda Oosthuizen’s stories and poems have been published in various forms, shown in galleries, in Winchester Cathedral and on the London Underground. Last year a series of ten poems was displayed in Oxfordshire as part of a collaboration with artist, Lucy Ash. Her latest online story is at 3:AM and prose and poetry is forthcoming in the U.K. with Paragram, and in the U.S. with Woven Tale Press and Prelude. She has an M.A. with distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, where she won the Kate Betts Prize. A long time ago, she studied English and Music at Aberystwyth University and has combined both ever since. Amanda and Robert have been married for 38 years and live in Hampshire.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths (Wrexham)

Painting the Beauty Queens Orange

This account of being the daughter of a Rhyl beauty competition judge shows a world of Carmen rollers, Miss Prestatyn Prince Charming and Dad going to work at Tito’s club in a frilly shirt and butterfly bowtie.

Lynne Parry-Griffiths was born in St. Asaph and educated at various universities. She currently teaches part-time and seems to divide a lot of her time between Rhuddlan and Ruabon. Her short story, ‘My Will Ne’er Be Done’ was a runner-up in the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2015. She has recently co-founded smallbooks, an artisan publishing company, and the first book in the Catrin-Elisabeth series for young children, Ladybird is Lost , will be published in 2017.

Adam Somerset (Aberaeron, Wales)

People, Places, Things: A Life with the Cold War

This memoir paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker. The account is coloured with frequent references to the historical hinterland and details of the author's encounters with the inhabitants of the world beyond the Iron Curtain - all these elements coming together to provide the reader with an immersion into the 'culture of apocalypse'.

Adam Somerset has lived in Ceredigion for 23 years. His first piece of writing was a play Quay Pursuits produced at the Questors Theatre in Ealing. He wrote an article on national theatre in 2007 for Planet magazine. In the same year he began to write for Theatre Wales, a review site based in Aberystwyth. He is the author of 600 commentary articles and reviews of theatre books and productions. He has written 100 reviews and articles on art, photography, history and television for Wales Arts Review . His reviews of books on politics have featured on the website of the Institute of Welsh Affairs .

AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella Longlist

Cath Barton (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales)

The Plankton Collector

This combination of magical realism and a realistic tale has the sense of being a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn. It tells of various family traumas being faced through the intercession of the mysterious Plankton Collector: infidelity, a closeted gay husband, the death of kin. Ultimately, memory and trauma work in tandem, and the power of imagination triumphs.

Cath Barton was born in the English Midlands and now lives in South Wales. Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Australia, the US and the UK, and her flash fiction has appeared on-line in Fictive Dream , Firefly Magazine and Long Exposure , amongst other places. Cath was Literature Editor of California-based Celtic Family Magazine (2013-2016) and is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review .

Rebecca Casson (Holywell, Flintshire, Wales)


Complex and authentic first-person narrative of homosexuality, sickness, healing and herbs in a Welsh monastery. Two novices go missing and are found with an interesting, gender-bending twist and a story of unrequited love.

Rebecca Casson is originally from North Yorkshire but travelled widely as a child with her army family. Graduating from Liverpool University in 2010 with an MA in Classics, she qualified as a teacher and now teaches Latin, Classical Civilisation and Ancient Greek at a girls’ school in Chester. As yet unpublished, Rebecca currently lives in North Wales with her husband and enjoys writing fiction in her free time.

Barbara de la Cuesta (Seaside Heights, New Jersey, US)


Atmospheric and nuanced story of expat life penetrated by local characters and dangerous politics. The language, food, landscape and customs of Cuba are vivid. Themes include gender politics, the unknowability of others, sacrifice, chance, injustice, class, privilege and poverty. The value of love is held up to that of pragmatism and convention.

Barbara de la Cuesta has one published novel, The Spanish Teacher , winner of the Gival Press Fiction Prize in 2007. She has been past recipient of fellowships in fiction from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts, as well as residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, The Virginia Center, and the Millay Colony. Her poetry collection will be published this year by Finishing Line Press. She lives in New Jersey and has taught English as a Second Language and Spanish for many years.

Nicola Daly (Chester, Cheshire)

The Night Where you no Longer Live

First person dark European fairytale about abuse, cross-dressing and Claudette’s desperate attempts to escape a cruel, dead father’s shadow and a living brother’s evil intent. The unusual, unsettling language here is compelling, as is Claudette’s immediate voice. Enriched with references to modern Paris as well as Baudelaire and Sartre.

Nicola Daly was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 1974. However for most of her life she has lived in Chester. Her short stories, non- fiction work and poetry has been widely published by a variety of publications such as Honno Women’s Press, The North West Arts Council Anthologies, Myslexia, Rialto, and many more.

Olivia Gwyne (Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland)

The Seal

This is the story of unequal power, and the grooming of an eleven year old girl by a nineteen year old male. He spots the source of her vulnerability in her crazy religious Nana and her fearful mother. Strong beach and caravan-site settings coupled with the cat-and-mouse story make compelling reading.

Olivia Gwyne , originally from Hereford, is now based in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 2015 her pamphlet of short stories, The Kittens’ Wedding , was published by Womach Press, and the same year she won the SASH Writing Prize. Olivia has also been shortlisted for the Wells Short Story Competition, the Home Start Short Story Prize and the Horror Scribes Flash Fiction Ghost Story Competition. Her work was recently featured in Halo Literary Magazine . She holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

Atar Hadari (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire)

Burning Poets

A curiously perplexing account of a famous, passionate, deceased poet: her life and its many hurts, in tandem with an ambitious academic later in time, who attempts to uncover the secrets of her passing. the reader is haunted by the voice and words of a woman with deep, ardent, almost animalistic hopes, desires and vices.

Atar Hadari was born in Israel, raised in England, trained as an actor and writer at the University of East Anglia before winning a scholarship to study poetry and playwrighting with Derek Walcott at Boston University. His plays and songs have won many awards.

Joao Morais (Cardiff, Wales)

Smugglers' Tunnel

A historical tale of 19th century Cardiff that takes some surprising twists and turns; charting the journey of a young man struggling to escape the shadow of his late father, while uncovering the mystery behind a most exotic trinket. A wide cast of characters inhabit a vividly formed, urban world of desperation and poverty.

Joao Morais lives in Cardiff. He is about to complete a PhD in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. He has previously been shortlisted for the Academi Rhys Davies Short Story Prize, the Percy French Prize for Comic Verse, and the All Wales Comic Verse Award. He won the 2013 Terry Hetherington Prize for Young Writers. He has a short story collection due out next year with Parthian.

Veronica Popp (Chicago, US)


A writer in her early 20s has a mother in hospital dying of liver cancer. The protagonist is in an obsessive, toxic relationship based on meaningless sex. Pleasure circles evasion as conventional ‘doctor’-patient roles are overturned.

Veronica Popp is an activist and writer throughout the city of Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s from Elmhurst College in English and History, a Master’s in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and a Master’s in English with a concentration in Literary Studies from Western Illinois University. Popp has been published by many magazines and journals. Popp was recently nominated for the Silver Pen Writers Association Writing Well Award. Last year, she was a Teaching Artist and Co-Editor of student writing for Young Chicago Authors. The resulting work titled The End of Chiraq will be published by Northwestern University Press. Popp teaches composition at Elmhurst College and recently completed her first novel, The Longest Summer , out for submission to literary agents.

Mike Tuohy (Jefferson, Georgia, US)

Double Nickel Jackpot

Pacey, dialogue-driven, filmic, comic, coming-of-age anti-bromance. Parker and Lee, drifting since school, turn their access to the police car pool to their advantage in a joyride through the Bayou badlands. Things turn very nasty indeed.

Mike Tuohy was born in New Jersey in 1954. Moving to Georgia in 1965, he has sopped up Southern Culture ever since. A professional geologist, Mike works the environmental consulting rackets by day and writes at night, making friends, family and co-workers nervous as he chronicles the preposterous through short stories, novellas and a novel-in-progress. 17 of his short stories, including two collaborations and a Pushcart nominee, have been published. A two-time finalist in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, he has a total of nine words in that prestigious publication. Mike lives with his wife Sally in an earth-sheltered home by the North Oconee River near Jefferson, Georgia.


Amanda Oosthuizen (Eastleigh, Hampshire)

Carving Strangers

In this 1940s South-Africa set novel, the protagonist seeks escape from an unhappy marriage through carving beautiful boxes from rare African wood. When this doesn’t pay, she forms dangerous alliances, breaching class and race to enter the illegal diamond trade and move towards emancipation.

Amanda Oosthuizen’s stories and poems have been published in various forms, shown in galleries, in Winchester Cathedral and on the London Underground. Last year a series of ten poems was displayed in Oxfordshire as part of a collaboration with artist, Lucy Ash. Her latest online story is at 3:AM and another was recently shortlisted in The London Magazine competition; prose and poetry is forthcoming in the U.K. with Paragram, and in the U.S. with Woven Tale Press and Prelude. She has an M.A. with distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, where she won the Kate Betts Prize. She lives in Hampshire but a long time ago, she studied English and Music at Aberystwyth University and has worked in both subject areas ever since. Born a Jenkins, her family came from Merthyr.