NEW WELSH WRITING AWARDS 2019
Call for Entries
Judge & co-judge Gwen Davies
I’m Gwen Davies, editor of New Welsh Review. This is my fifth year judging these Awards, for which I am this year sole judge in one category and co-judge in the other. We are now open for entry and will award a prize of £1000 each to the winner of each category. Our two categories this year are: the Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella and the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting.
The Awards champion short unpublished books in English. Entries this year may vary across the categories, from (for the Rheidol Prize), short form Welsh-themed- or set-nonfiction (eg essay collections or books in nonfiction form from the memoir through travel, nature or comedy writing) to a novella set in Wales or with a Welsh theme. For the Dystopian Novella Prize, we will be looking at fiction, from the slim novella to imaginative books just shy of novel-length. Just to emphasise, the Rheidol Prize is for books with a Welsh theme or setting, whereas the Aberystwyth University Prize is for a dystopian novella with any theme or setting.
Both prizes have the same entry requirements, and will be charged at £10 per entry payable here by cheque or Paypal and we have limited numbers of free entry passes for writers on a low income (you may try for both categories but any winner would only be awarded in one category). Both prizes are open to both new and established writers in the UK and Ireland, as well as writers resident anywhere in the world if they have been educated in Wales for a minimum of six months. Entries close at midnight Monday 4 February 2019. Submitted work must be unpublished in any form before and throughout the entry procedure.
Entries via this page by the closing date is Monday 4 February.
The briefs for these categories complement each other, reflecting the reach and home-base of our magazine, with the dystopian theme ranging across societies (and possibly universes) while the Rheidol prize nurtures a closer focus on homegrown subjects and settings (while of course these may wander into the ‘foreign country’ of the past). If one considers both catgories of the Awards, meanwhile, we will promote both nonfiction and, for only the second time in these Awards’ history, the novella. The shorter length, just shy of booklength and perfect for the Kindle Single format, will be embraced in both categories, as we continue to celebrate concision but throw our doors open to a vast range of writing forms and experiences.
This year’s competition follows successful prizes in previous years, which resulted in the publication of books including Eluned Gramich’s Woman Who Brings the Rain (Wales Book of the Year shortlist, 2016); Bush Meat by Mandy Sutter (‘Triumphs, in its lean prose... humour... [and] evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria. Stitches together the threads of memory to create a moving tapestry of lost life, building bridges of understanding across time and place.’ Rory MacLean), and, this autumn, Cath Barton’s The Plankton Collector, a magical haunting tale of family healing that Mavis Cheek found she ‘couldn’t put… down’ due to its being ‘beautiful. A delicate paean for coming together, full of understanding for the quirks and pitfalls and ultimate goodness in human nature.’ This coming March, meanwhile, our Rarebyte imprint will see the publication of the poignant and rigorous memoir on anorexia, My Oxford, by Catherine Haines.
The judges for the 2019 competition for a Welsh-set or themed- novella or nonfiction book (the Rheidol Prize), will be myself (whose credits as translator include the forthcoming The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis), with co-judge Cynan Jones, prizewinning author, screenwriter and novella specialist (with five short novels under his belt); Cynan won the BBC National Short Story Award last year for his story, ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ which was previewed in New Welsh Review and later appeared in The New Yorker; he was also shortlisted in the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in 2013, and won the fiction category in Wales Book of the Year in 2015.
I will be the sole judge of the Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella. I cross borders as a literary translator and as editor of New Welsh Review, bringing authors and artists from all corners of the world and their professions into creative exchange here in Wales. Since economy and precision are what journals are all about, it seems right that these awards, for unpublished books up to 30,000 words, endorse the shorter publication formats which the digital age has made possible. I’m certain that this competition will unveil a host of talent we can add to the stable of writers that have already found a home in our pages.
Although for the Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian novella we are seeking novellas, for the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting, we are open to considering a selection of short stories up to the maximum wordlength as well as novellas (and nonfiction, as noted above).
The first-placed winners of each category will receive £1000 in cash as an advance for an e-book deal published by New Welsh Review under the New Welsh Rarebyte imprint. Leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown will also give the winner a positive critique of their submission. I am already helping the 2018 winner, Ed Garland, develop for publishing his debut essay collection, an interpretation of sound in contemporary literature interspersed with the author’s own experiences of hearing difficulty, written with a rare combination of analytical panache and engaging personal voice.
The prize for second place in each category is a £300 voucher towards a one-week residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales, the beautiful former home of Lloyd George. Third prize for both category runners-up is a weekend stay at Gladstone’s residential library in Flintshire, north Wales, another gorgeous peaceful venue, also connected with a former Liberal Prime Minister, and voted ‘Top Wellbeing Retreat’ by Guardian readers in 2015.
Each prizewinner will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition, up to twelve entries ranking highest in the competition will be considered for publication in our creative print magazine, New Welsh Reader, with our standard fee, currently £170.
We will once again run a parallel Readers’ Poll for the best book ever in each category, and welcome nominations for dystopian novellas set anywhere and short nonfiction or fiction (stories or novellas) set in Wales or with a Welsh theme. These may be published in English across the world, through history, and we are certain to create an inspiring reading list of classics, both from Wales and around the world. Nominations can be made via Twitter, Facebook or by emailing editor[at]newwelshreview.com. You might, for example, nominate as best dystopian novella Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Lloyd Markham’s Bad Ideas \ Chemicals or Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Or nominations for best nonfiction from Wales might include Gwyneth Lewis’ Sunbathing in the Rain, while those for fiction (specifically novellas) from Wales might include Cynan Jones’ The Dig or the title novella in Mary-Ann Constantine’s collection, All the Souls.
For our Readers’ Poll we will be seeking the widest possible range of nominations worldwide from the best-crafted Welsh-themed or set-novellas and nonfiction collections, as well as dystopian novellas set anywhere. This mix might include the psychologically astute novella leading Glenda Beagan’s collection, The Great Master of Ecstasy; Lloyd Jones’ novella in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series, See How They Run, or, among dystopian titles, HG Wells’ The Time Machine; Jack London’s The Iron Heel, or Ursula le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven. With the help of students at Aberystwyth University, we’ll be whittling them down via popular vote to produce a longlist, shortlist and winner to mirror the priorities of the writing prizes themselves.
Entries to the prize will be longlisted on 1 April 2019, and the shortlist will be made public on 1 May 2019. The winner will be announced at the Hay Festival in Wales at a glittering ceremony around the start of June 2019, with film screenings of trailers for the winning entries.
Since part of the prize is book publication, longer pieces will inevitably make more satisfying books, and this should be taken into account by entrants. Please visit our Terms and Conditions page for full details, including word limits.
If you want to write to write a dystopian novella to rival George Orwell’s satirical Animal Farm, a nonfiction title with a Welsh theme such as Bruce Chatwin’s experimental In Patagonia, or a novella with a Welsh setting, such as Cynan Jones’ concise and poetic Cove, I want to hear from you. Best of luck!
Gwen Davies has been editor of New Welsh Review since 2011. She has worked as creative editor at publishers including Parthian, and founded the imprints Alcemi and New Welsh Rarebyte. As a literary translator her titles include Robin Llywelyn's White Star (Seren Wen) and two of bestseller Caryl Lewis' novels, Martha, Jack & Shanco (Martha, Jac a Sianco, Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller (Y Gemydd, Honno, 2019). She has also been a Literature Officer at the Arts Council of Wales, a member and Chair of Literature Wales' Writers' Bursaries Panel for seven years, represented literature for the Arts Council of Wales' Creative Wales Awards and has been a writers' mentor, both privately and for Literature Wales. She has been co-judge for the New Welsh Writing Awards since its inauguration in 2015. She grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire and now lives in Aberystwyth with her family. Gwen is acting as sole judge of the Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella and as co-judge with Cynan Jones of the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting.
Cynan Jones was born near Aberaeron on the west coast of Wales in 1975. He is the author of five novels, published in over 20 countries. He has been longlisted and shortlisted for numerous prizes internationally, and won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize, a Betty Trask Award, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award, and, most recently, the BBC National Short Story Award.
He has also written stories for BBC Radio, a screenplay for the hit crime drama Hinterland, and a collection of tales for children. Other writing has appeared in numerous anthologies and newspapers, and in journals and magazines including Granta and The New Yorker. Cynan joins Gwen Davies in co-judging the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting.
New Welsh Review, PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 1WZ
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New Welsh Review's Principal Sponsor for the Awards is Aberystwyth University, and the magazine is hosted within the university's Department of English and Creative Writing. For the 2019 Awards, we’re very grateful for philanthropic support from a longstanding subscriber Richard Powell which has enabled us to run a second category this year, the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting. We run both the writing prizes and the reading poll with the help of students from the department who help with tasks such as filtering and co-judging entries, reviewing and researching nominated Poll entries, marketing, social media and promoting and running our landmark events.
For information about the Awards please contact Julia Forster at marketing @ newwelshreview.com
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