2019 – Longlist – Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting

New Welsh Writing Awards 2019: Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting

New Welsh Review is delighted to announce the longlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 which this year sought entries across two categories: the Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella, run in association with Aberystwyth University, and the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting, which was made possible thanks to the generous support of long-term subscriber Richard Powell.

Now in its fifth year, the Awards were set up in 2015 to champion the best short-form writing in English. Last year, the winner of the Aberystwyth University Prize for an Essay Collection was won by Ed Garland for Fiction as a Hearing Aid, which New Welsh Review will publish as the nonfiction book Earwitness on 19 September 2019.

This year, in the dystopian category, the settings range from Britain in the 1800s to the twenty-second century, from an archipelago-bound London to a military research base in rural Wales. Characters in these dystopian novellas face conflicts from identity theft or being abandoned by their parents, to being the last human left alive on the planet – or so they thought….

In the Rheidol category for writing on Welsh settings and themes, the Awards attracted a strong field of both fiction and non-fiction, varying from an epistolary account from the 1700s, to a memoir of growing up in Zimbabwe and on a Ceredigion smallholding, to a story set in interwar Cardiff. We ascend slate-quarry faces with 80s oddball postal dole-claiming rock climbers in Snowdonia, while elsewhere in the longlisted entries we learn about the gaps between generations and the current state of identity politics in contemporary Wales.

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies and the award-winning author Cynan Jones judged the Awards with help from students from Aberystwyth University’s Department of English and Creative Writing.

Congratulations to our longlisted writers below, in alphabetical order by author surname:


Marilyn Barlow The Smallholding I Knew (Non-fiction, author based in New Quay, Wales)

This personal memoir centres on finding a new home in Ceredigion but also explores the author’s origins in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and the political and economical changes there which made people of European origin unwelcome. It discusses at length the way in the author found sanctuary on a smallholding in Wales and improved it to support the needs of local wildlife and within a philosophy acutely aware of the globe’s over-population. It asks the crucial question, ‘How might one define home and how can that be reconciled with a world of constant change?”

Marilyn Barlow was born and educated in Zimbabwe when it was still wild and wide. She put herself through University in Switzerland, spending nine years in academia both sides of the desk. In England, she worked in marketing for a computer company learning IT while pursuing studies in psychotherapy and philosophy. The unbearable noise and pollution of the south east drove her to move to a smallholding in Ceredigion with her partner. The wonder of nature and beauty, reflected in her art and writing, have informed her choices and desire to raise awareness about population, wildlife and the planet.

Mark Blayney The Devil Next Door (Fiction, author based in Cardiff, Wales)

In 1938 Cardiff, an artist who reworks paintings in order to make them more up-to-date is summoned to an armaments factory where the owner is unimpressed by her handiwork on his portrait. As war clouds gather, the memory of a traumatic incident that makes her unable to leave her house leads her to question the work she is doing. There’s also something very strange going on with her unfriendly neighbour. But the post boy thinks he can come to her rescue, if she’ll only let him. 

Mark Blayney is a writer and journalist living in Cardiff. He won the Somerset Maugham Award for his short novel Two kinds of silence and has received a Wales Media Award for his journalism. Third story collection Doppelgangers and poetry Loud music makes you drive faster are published by Parthian. Mark is a Hay Festival Writer at Work and has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition. He’s published regularly at The Interpreter’s House, Agenda, The Lonely Crowd, Poetry Wales and more. www.markblayney.weebly.com   @markblayney