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.

Now in its fifth year, the Awards were set up in 2015 to champion the best short-form writing in English. Last year, the winner of the Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection was won by Ed Garland for Fiction as a Hearing Aid which New Welsh Review will publish as Earwitness 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’s 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. 

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged the Awards with help from students from Aberystwyth University's Department of English and Creative Writing, and was joined by co-judge Cynan Jones for the Rheidol Prize. 

Congratulations to our shortlisted and highly commended writers below, in alphabetical order by author surname, about whom you can read more on the Dystopian Novella shortlist page and the Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting shortlist page…

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

Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella – HIGHLY COMMENDED (in alphabetical order)

Dewi Heald (Llantwit Major, Wales) - Me, I’m Like Legend, I Am

Thomas Pitts (Newbury, England) -The Chosen

Heledd Williams (China) -Water, Water, Nowhere…

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)

Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting – HIGHLY COMMENDED (in alphabetical order)

Marilyn Barlow (New Quay, Wales) -The Smallholding I Knew (Non-fiction)

Mark Blayney (Cardiff, Wales) -The Devil Next Door (Fiction)

Elizabeth Griffiths (Lincolnshire, England) - Closing the Gap (Non-fiction)

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Summer House in Hay Festival on Friday 24 May from 3.00-5.00pm.

Both winners will receive £1,000 cash each as advance against e-publication by New Welsh Reviewunder 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 2019 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. 

@newwelshreview #newwelshawards



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.

Photo: Bernadine Jones

Photo: Bernadine Jones

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

Tel: 01970 628410   Email: admin @ 

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 @

If you would like to subscribe to the magazine (subscription starts at £16.99/year), or find out more about New Welsh Review, visit

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