A pacey novella, The Word, by JL George, about a teenage duo, Rhydian and Jonno on the run, has won first prize in the category of 'dystopian novella' (under 30,000 words), in the fifth year of the New Welsh Writing Awards. The Pontypool-based author was praised for her ability to combine the huge concepts of ethics, language, propaganda, communication and cohesion in a touching story of friendship and trust between the boys. The category was sponsored by Aberystweth University, whose students contributed to the initial judging.
The second category of 'Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting', sponsored by benefactor and former diplomat Richard Powell, was won by Peter Goulding for On Slate, about a group of jobless climbers in Thatcher’s 1980s who find purpose and place in the slate quarries of North Wales. It was described as "humorous, well researched, extremely engaging, with a fantastic sense of place, and conveys the delight of the sport to the non-enthusiast".
Both winners receive a cash prize, publication in the New Welsh Review, which focuses on the best of Welsh writing in English, and a critique by literary agent Curtis Brown. The Awards were set up in 2015 to champion the best short-form writing. The awards ceremony was held at Hay Festival, described by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, as "the most wonderful festival in the English speaking world".
Photo: Marsha Arnold