CREATIVE Cynan Jones

NWR Issue 112

Preview from Cove

He wakes floating on his back, caught on a cleat by the elastic toggle of his wetsuit shoe. Around him hailstones melt and sink. They are scattered on the kayak, roll off as it bobs on the slight waves. There is a hissing sound. The hailstones melting in the water.

He stares around, shell-shocked, trying to understand, a layer of ash on the surface of the water. He cannot move his arms. They are held out before him as if beseeching the sky.

Dead fish lie around him in the water.

He gets himself to the boat, the boat to him, drawing it with his leg, shaking until he frees the lace, turns, kicks, twists, trying to lever with his useless arms. Somehow tips himself into the boat. A primal instinct to make land.

Live, he’s thinking. Live.

A loud bell sounding in his head. The shock of an alarm.

His fishing rod on fire upon the water as he slips off the world again, and passes out.


His mouth is crusted with salt. He does not know where he is. There is a pyroclast of fine dried ash across his skin.

When he comes to, the strongest thing he feels is the tingling in his hands. It feels as if they are distant things, strange ringing bells. Finds out anew he cannot move his arms. He does not remember getting back into the kayak. Does not understand. The ground is moving. Is sure that if he moves he will abolish himself. Holds on to himself like a thought coming out of sleep.

He moves because he coughs, a cough made of glass. Slowly lifts himself. One eye closed with salt. Does not know why, why it will not open.

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Cynan Jones’ latest novella, Cove, was published by Granta on 3 November. His previous novella, The Dig (Granta, 2014), won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize 2015 and a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award 2014. It was shortlisted and longlisted for other prizes, in the UK and abroad, and a chapter was shortlisted for the 2013 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. His earlier novellas, The Long Dry and Everything I Found on the Beach were originally published by Parthian in 2006 and 2011 respectively, before Granta brought out new editions in 2014. He also wrote Bird, Blood, Snow (2012), one in Seren’s New Stories from the Mabinogion series. Cynan lives on the west Wales coast, near Aberaeron. A video interview with him and bestselling, prizewinning Welsh-language author Caryl Lewis, who was brought up in and writes from the same locality as Cynan, will be broadcast by New Welsh Review in the spring.


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