2019 Shortlist – Dystopian Novellas

New Welsh Writing Awards 2019: Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella Shortlist

New Welsh Review is delighted to announce the shortlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella.

The shortlist includes three women writers from Wales – Rosey Brown, JL George and Rhiannon Lewis – who present dystopian novellas in turn about a Britain besieged by floods, a teenage duo who are on the run and a Welsh heroine who is searching for the reason behind mass disappearances. Whilst among the highly commended entries, we discover characters trying to remake themselves in a south Wales turned upside down by The Unpleasantness in Dewi Heald’s novella; in Thomas Pitt’s The Chosen we follow an Amish community trying to survive war in a mash-up of period sci-fi and dystopia and finally in Heledd Williams’ Water, Water, Nowhere… the author merges and art heist with a water shortage to present an entertaining and fast-paced quick read. Read on for more details of the eminently readable shortlisted and highly commended novellas.

The shortlist was announced at the Bookshop in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Wednesday 1 May. The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony at Hay Festival on Friday 24 May.

New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies judged the prize, with help from students of Aberystwyth University’s Department of English & Creative Writing.

Congratulations to our three shortlisted and three highly commended authors below, in alphabetical order:


Rosey Brown - Adrift (Cardiff)

Reading this dystopia-set gay coming-of-age story, the reader relaxes into the writing and engages with characters whose motivations are perfectly captured. Here is a Britain afflicted by flooding, where London – not unlike today –  sucks in money and energy as well as taking a lifetime to reach. 

JL George - The Word (Pontypool)

Rhydian and Jonno are the teenage duo at the heart of this pacey novella which balances big concepts such as ethics, language, propaganda and control with a human story of flight and finding love and trust where you can.

Rhiannon Lewis - The Significance of Swans (Abergavenny)

Aeronwy, the heroine of this mystery searching for the cause of mass disappearances, makes us turn pages, keeps us caring for her and lets us really experience the nature, houses and routes of a Wales that has changed irrevocably and yet remains known.

Highly commended

Dewi Heald - Me, I’m Like Legend, I Am (Vale of Glamorgan)

In this spawn ofShaun of the Dead and Fflur Dafydd’s Y Llyfrgell, a former travel agent, a risk assessor and a failed writer attempt to remake themselves in a south Wales turned upside-down by The Unpleasantness. Sharp, grounded and imaginative, with the funniest last line about Wales you might have read in years.

Thomas Pitts - The Chosen (Newbury, England)

A mash-up of period sci-fi and dystopia scores highly on ambition in its portrayal of an Amish community surviving universal war on an asteroid, and raising questions about language, faith and colonialism.

Heledd Williams - Water, Water, Nowhere… (China)

This fast-paced novella merges an art heist with water-shortage-focused dystopia in an original package: competent, entertaining and polished.