New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella Shortlist

New Welsh Review in association with AmeriCymru is delighted to announce the shortlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

In the Novella category, sexual abuse and grooming are among the central themes, as well as the destructive power of archetypes and idylls, and escaping the shadow of a father figure. The highly commended entries feature homosexuality in a Welsh monastery, expat life in Cuba, and a haunting fictionalised account of Sylvia Plath’s life.

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.’

Congratulations to our shortlisted and highly commended writers below:


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 Abergavenny, 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.


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.   



Rebecca Casson (Holywell, Flintshire, Wales) Infirmarian

Caroline Greville.jpg

This first-person narrative creates with impressive detail the sequestered but very active world of a medieval Welsh monastery. When two novices go missing, the Infirmarian, who treats illnesses at the monastery, works to solve the mystery - and in doing so uncovers secrets and unexpected relationships. Theengaging plot climaxes in a gender-bending twist that is as satisfying as it is surprising.

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) Exiles

An atmospheric and nuanced story of expat life infused with vivid local characters and dangerous politics. The language, food, landscape and customs of the unnamed South American country are vividly rendered. The novella’s themes include gender politics, the unknowability of others, sacrifice, chance, injustice, class, privilege and poverty. The value of love is measured against 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.

Atar Hadari (Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire) Burning Poets

A curiously perplexing account of the famous, passionate, deceased poet Sylvia Plath. Her life and its many hurts is narrated in tandem with that of an ambitious academic later in time, who attempts to uncover the secrets of Plath’s 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.