Memoir about a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria wins New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing
New Welsh Review, in association with the University of South Wales and CADCentre, announced the winner of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing at a ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff on Thursday 7 July.
Mandy Sutter from Ilkley won the top prize for her re-telling of her mother’s story of growing up in mid 1960s Nigeria through her own eyes, ‘Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me’. She was given a cheque for £1,000 by judge Rory MacLean and her winning entry will be published by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint this autumn and will also receive a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME.
NWR editor and Prize judge Gwen Davies said ‘Travel writing creates bridges of understanding across physical and imaginative borders, between our own and 'other' cultures as well as between the past and the present. Mandy Sutter's Nigeria rises like a mirage from her story as a child there in the mid 1960s; her use of fiction techniques such as empathy and multiple viewpoints, especially her mother's adult experience as an ex-pat negotiating her own family's conforming views of race and class, create a complete arc of innovative concision.’
Co-judge Rory MacLean said ‘Mandy Sutter's 'Bush Meat' triumphs, in its lean prose and true dialogue, in its disarming humour, in its evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria. In her story, Mandy stitches together the threads of memory to create a moving tapestry of lost life, building bridges of understanding across time and place, enhancing literature's ever-changing, ever-supple genre.’
Second prize was awarded to Cardiff University PhD student Nathan Llewelyn Munday for his piece ‘Seven Days, A Pyrenean Trek’ that uses European creation myths to map the highs and lows of the grand narrative. A deceptively simple hike with his father becomes a timeless, scholarly, rich, human, engaging and heartfelt Odyssey. Nathan wins a weeklong residential course of his choice at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales.
Third prize went to travel writer John Harrison for his piece ‘The Rains of Titikaka’ that tracks the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, highest city in the ancient world and the hub of a trading empire stretching from Chile to Peru. John wins a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales.
All three entries will be published in extract form in the autumn edition of New Welsh Reader (112) on 1 September and all three winners will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.
MANDY SUTTER: ‘BUSH MEAT: AS MY MOTHER TOLD ME’
Written in lemon juice as zesty as a latter-day Martha Gelhorn, this act of ventriloquism gives voice to the author’s mother’s expat life in Nigeria and her own child’s-eye take on its complications. With striking images including a Barbary duck with a ‘melted face’, and an economy of style of the stiff-upper-lip variety, this travel memoir presents a world where animal, child, bushman, black servant and white employer know his or her place and may seethe in it, or attempt to wriggle around it.
Mandy Sutter grew up in Kent but now lives in Yorkshire with her partner and a large black dog called Fable. ‘Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me’ explores the time her family spent in Nigeria when she was a child. She has co-written two books about the lives of Somali women, published in 2006 and 2007 and her first novel Stretching It was published in 2013. She has also published three poetry pamphlets with independent presses.
NATHAN LLYWELYN MUNDAY: ‘SEVEN DAYS, A PYRENEAN TREK’
The creation of European identities (and pan-European creation myths) in the French-Basque-Spanish mountain border region is Nathan Llywelyn Munday's topical subject in ‘Seven Days: A Pyrenean Trek’; a deceptively simple hike with his father becomes a timeless, scholarly, rich, human, engaging and heartfelt Odyssey.
Nathan Llywelyn Munday is originally from a small village in Carmarthenshire but now lives near the Gabalfa interchange, Cardiff. Having just started his PhD, he still tries to escape to the mountains whenever he can. He recently won the M. Wynn Thomas Prize (New Scholars Category) for an essay based on his MA work.
JOHN HARRISON: ‘THE RAINS OF TITIKAKA’
The centrality of South America to John Harrison's writing career is cemented in his entry, a story of past drought in an ancient city told to the evocative drumbeat of today's Bolivian rain; 'The Rains of Titikaka' tells how remembrance and the present day intertwine, and it does so engagingly, with humour, with dignity and with the utmost respect towards pre-Columbian and current indigenous cultures.
John Harrison is a traveller and writer. His books have won the 2011 Wales Book of the Year, the 2013 non-fiction prize at the same awards, the Alexander Cordell Travel Writing Prize twice, while Where the Earth Ends was a Sunday Timesbook of the week. In his most recent book, 1519 A Journey to the End of Time, for four months John followed the route of Hernán Cortés across Mexico. A resident of Cardiff for most of his life, John currently lives with his partner at a place equidistant from the British Museum, British Library and the Royal Geographical Society, of which he is a fellow.