New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir Longlist

New Welsh Review in association with Aberystwyth University is delighted to announce the longlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir. 

Both new and established writers based in Wales and England 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.

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 included a baboon; being the daughter of a Rhyl beauty competition judge, and backpacking behind the iron curtain.

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged both categories with help from students from Aberystwyth University. 

Congratulations to our long listed writers below:

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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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'. 

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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.