Two Catherines reign in short book prize New Welsh Writing Awards 2017 in Novella and Memoir categories on the subjects of healing and trauma


New Welsh Review, in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, announced the winners of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir, and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, at a ceremony at the Hay Festival on Thursday 1 June. 

Catherine Haines, a dual English-Australian citizen, won the Memoir Prize, for her account of a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University, entitled ‘My Oxford’. Cath Barton, from the English Midlands and now living in Abergavenny, south Wales, won the Novella Prize for her story ‘The Plankton Collector’, a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn. 

NWR Editor Gwen Davies said ‘In our two winning entries in the novella and memoir categories, chosen from nearly all-woman shortlists (putting our political parties to shame), healing, trauma and the fluidity of memory and experience predominate as themes.

‘On our memoir shortlist were true accounts of bad luck, eating and Cold War paranoia, all taken to extremes. From it triumphed a rigorous, philosophical case for regarding eating disorder as pilgrimage. Our four-minute animation of ‘My Oxford’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, uses typography to show the to-and-fro of academic discourse and the skull of Yorrick from Hamlet to illustrate Catherine’s experience of how anorexia started turning her into ‘a floating head… devoid of emotion.’

‘On our novella shortlist were dark stories of sexual abuse, grooming and escaping domineering fathers. From it triumphed a beautifully controlled mix of magical realism and nature writing about time, healing, trauma and the fluid, unreliable nature of memory. Our four-minute animation of ‘The Plankton Collector’, made by Aberystwyth University graduate Emily Roberts, deploys 1960s-style children’s book illustration to depict a lost natural golden world of childhood and the healing Everyman that Cath’s mysterious Plankton Collector represents.’



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 DreamFirefly 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.




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.



Second Place in the Memoir Prize was awarded to Mary Oliver for ‘The Case’, a ‘cross-genre fictionalised memoir’ that is ‘innovative, affecting, with depth of heart and breadth of research’. In the Novella Prize, Second Place was awarded to Olivia Gwyne for her story ‘The Seal’, a tale of ‘complex, nuanced characterizations and a narrative that expertly builds tension and suspense’. Mary and Olivia will both receive a weeklong residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales

Third Place in the Memoir Prize was awarded to Adam Somerset for ‘People, Places, Things: A Life With The Cold War’, a memoir that ‘paints a sweeping landscape of the Eastern Bloc as experienced through the eyes of a British backpacker.’ Nicola Daly was awarded Third Place in the Novella Prize, for her ‘innovative style and the masterfully-created, surreal world’ in her novella ‘The Night Where You No Longer Live’. Both Adam and Nicola win a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales.

All twelve nominees will be published in extract form in upcoming editions of New Welsh Reader; all six shortlisted writers will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine. 



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) and The Jeweller(Y Gemydd). 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, and in 2017, as well as being co-judge for the novella category, will be sole judge for the memoir category. She grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire and now lives in Aberystwyth with her family.

David Lloyd was born in the Welsh-American community of Utica, New York and now teaches at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York state. He is the author of nine books, including Boys: Stories and a Novella and two poetry collections, The Everyday Apocalypse, and The Gospel according to Frank. He edited The Urgency of Identity: Contemporary English-Language Poetry from Wales, and in 2000 received the Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Memorial Award. In 2001 he was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in residence at Bangor University, Wales. In 2016 he received the M. Wynn Thomas Award for outstanding academic work in the field of Welsh Writing in English for his essay 'Brenda Chamberlain and American Modernism'. His fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals including Crab Orchard ReviewDoubleTakeNew Welsh ReviewPoetry Wales, and Planet


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