The Mabinogi by Matthew Francis is Hay Festival Book of the Month for December, continuing the Festival's campaign to celebrate and ignite conversation around current and backlist books that have particular contemporary resonance.
The Mabinogi is the Welsh national epic, a collection of prose tales of war and enchantment, adventure and romance, which have long fascinated readers all over the world. Matthew Francis’ retelling of the first four stories (the Four Branches of the Mabinogi) is the first to situate it in poetry and captures the magic and strangeness of this medieval Celtic world: a baby is kidnapped by a monstrous claw, a giant wades across the Irish Sea to do battle, a wizard makes a woman out of flowers, only to find she is less biddable than he had expected.
Permeating the whole sequence is a delight in the power of the imagination to transform human experience into works of tragedy, comedy and wonder. The Mabinogi was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2018.
"I have waited a life for this book: our ancient British tales re-told, in English, by a poet, as they were in their original Welsh. This is more than translation. It picks up the harp and sings," said Gillian Clarke.
Hay Festival’s Book of the Month is selected by the festival team in Hay-on-Wye, based on public recommendations, and aims to revisit and re-celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry that reach through time to touch the present.
Titles are sold in the UK through the festival’s online shop, as well as being available in all good libraries and bookshops, with a digital festival of promotion online, including curated streams on the festival’s Hay Player archive.
Find out more about Hay Festival’s Book of the Month here or explore #HayBookOfTheMonth on social.