Alys Conran named global Hay Festival Fellow 2019-20

Novelist Alys Conran from North Wales has been named recipient of the Cymrawd Rhyngwladol Cymru Greadigol Gwyl y Gelli / Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellowship for 2019-2020.

A programme funded by Arts Council of Wales, the Fellowship provides an opportunity for a writer from Wales to participate in Hay Festival editions throughout the year in Wales, Mexico, Spain, Peru, Colombia and Croatia. It is open to exceptional, ambitious and imaginative creative individuals, working within the literature art form, providing a unique opportunity for career development, while increasing Wales’s artistic profile internationally.

Conran’s second novel Dignity (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) has recently been published to critical acclaim, while her first novel Pigeon (Parthian) was released in 2016 and won the Wales Book of the Year Award 2017, the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and longlisted for the Author’s Choice First Novel Award. Her poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction, creative essays, literary translations and other work is to be found in numerous magazines and anthologies.

Originally from North Wales, she speaks Welsh and English as first languages, and also speaks Spanish and Catalan. She has worked as a youth worker, teacher, and in community arts, and is now Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bangor University.

Cristina Fuentes de la Roche, Hay Festival international director, said: “Alys Conran is one of the most exciting contemporary writers around. We’ve enjoyed celebrating her work at Hay Festival Wales over the past few years and are honoured to do so internationally, introducing new readers to her vibrant writing in Mexico, Spain, Peru, Colombia and Croatia. They’re in for a treat.”

In joining the Fellowship, Conran sits alongside an illustrious line-up of writers from Wales that includes Jon Gower, Tiffany Murray, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers, Eurig Salisbury, Jay Griffiths, Jenny Valentine, and the 2018-19 Fellow Dylan Moore, whose debut collection of travel writing Driving Home Both Ways is out now.

Conran said: “I’m so honoured and delighted to be Hay International Fellow this year, and looking forward to having multilingual conversations, developing cross-cultural creative ideas and sharing inspiration at these wonderful festivals. I’ll not be forgetting where I’m from, though, and will be taking a piece of Welsh writing slate to each place, to honour the role that slate once had in supporting writing and literacy throughout the world.”

Moore said: “The last year has seemed like so much longer than that, as each of the festivals has opened up like the tree of the festival’s new logo: new literary discoveries; incredible travel experiences; wonderful new friends; as well as the seeds for so many future writing projects. Never mind the career boost, the Hay Fellowship will be on the highlights reel at my funeral.”

Conran’s first trip will be to Hay Festival Querétaro in Mexico at the start of September, followed by Segovia in Spain later that month; Arequipa, Peru in November; and Cartagena, Colombia in January 2020, and Croatia in June 2020.

Find out more about the Fellowship and follow Conran's journey here.