Wales Book of the Year 2013: Nine unveiled for shortlist launched

The nine writers on the 2013 Wales Book of the Year shortlist
Image caption The nine writers on the 2013 Wales Book of the Year shortlist

The search is under way for the 2013 Wales Book of the Year Award winner with the announcement of the shortlist in an online broadcast.

Nine works have been chosen in the three English language categories from more than 100 eligible books.

Judges' chair Ffion Hague said they had faced a real challenge as the standard seemed higher than ever.

Meic Stephens is shortlisted in both English and Welsh language categories - a first for the annual award.

His English language contender is a collection of obituaries of 75 prominent Welsh people, and in the Welsh category a story of how a young boy from an English-speaking home grew up to be a Welshman and play a prominent part in Welsh culture.

This year's shortlist, as in previous years, features authors at different stages of their writing careers.

James Smythe and Deryn Rees-Jones both make the shortlist for the first time, as does Rhian Edwards for her debut poetry collection chronicling her Bridgend childhood and other matters.

Previous winners John Harrison and Jon Gower - last year's Welsh-language winner - are also nominated for their non-fiction books about Antarctic explorers and a journey around the Welsh coast.

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch also takes an Antarctic theme for her poetry collection.

Smythe's The Testimony is an apocalyptic thriller with the world on the brink of destruction, while Aberystwyth-based Matthew Francis and Flintshire-born Gee Williams offer short story collections in the fiction category.

Writer and business consultant Ffion Hague chairs the panel of judges.

Ms Hague said: "All three of us were excited to note the variety of the writing submitted, the number of talented new writers, and the broad range of topics, styles and formats of the work.

"We believe that yet again, the prize has demonstrated that Welsh writing is diverse, vibrant, and, at its best, highly accomplished."

Ms Hague said there were examples of excellent writing in more niche categories.

"But we feel strongly that our eventual winner, our Wales Book of the Year, should have breadth of appeal and we have made our choices accordingly."

Lleucu Siencyn, chief executive of competition organisers Literature Wales, said it gives readers and writers across Wales and beyond the opportunity to experience the richness of Welsh literature.

"By using a digital platform for the shortlist we are able to share our strong literary heritage with even more people no matter where they are in the world."

The 2013 winner will be revealed at a ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on 18 July.

Patrick McGuinness was the 2012 winner with The Last Hundred Days, a novel set in the Romanian capital Bucharest during the 1989 revolution.

Previous winners of the English award, which was launched in 1992, included Owen Sheers, Robert Minhinnick, Dannie Abse, and Deborah Kay Davies.

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