2019 Shortlist – Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting

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

New Welsh Review is delighted to announce the shortlist for the New Welsh Writing Awards 2019 Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting, made possible with the support of longterm subscriber Richard Powell.

The varied shortlist includes a non-fiction account of climbing in the quick-drying slate quarries of North Wales 1980s by Peter Goulding, a memoir set in 1990s Newport club scene penned by Richard John Parfitt and Sarah Tanburn’s vision of a future Wales where Hawk training and horse racing are closely intertwined. Over on the highly commended list, we hear from writers Marilyn Barlow whose account of keeping a smallholding in Ceredigion is counter-pointed with her upbringing in war-torn Rhodesia, Mark Blayney who presents an inter-war novella set in a Jewish community in Cardiff and Elizabeth Griffiths whose essays about Wales and its literatures are both brimming with integrity and depth. Read on for more details of the shortlisted and highly commended entries.

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 and Cynan Jones co-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:


Peter Goulding - On Slate (Norfolk)

A tautly laid down account of how the quick-drying slate quarries of North Wales offered play, purpose and place to an eclectic, visionary group of jobless climbers in Thatcher’s 1980s.

Richard John Parfitt - Tales from the Riverbank (Vale of Glamorgan)

Newport is brought alive and vivid in this insightful, inciting memoir, that zips with the historic energy of ancient battles, Houdini’s escapades, legendary clubs, and the city’s late-century music scene.

Sarah Tanburn - Hawks of Dust and Wine (Vale of Glamorgan)

A sensuous forward-facing fable of an independent future Wales and its relationship with the Arab world of hawk training and horseracing, sumptuous with mythologies and richly rooted in the landscape.

Highly commended

Marilyn Barlow - The Smallholding I Knew (New Quay, Ceredigion)

A quiet yet heartfelt personal account of the quest to establish and sustain a Ceredigion smallholding; a place in stark, considered contrast to the author’s extraordinary upbringing in conflict-torn Rhodesia.

Mark Blayney - The Devil Next Door (Cardiff)

Wit, panache and strikingly visual set-scenes shine in this memorable novella about the interwar Jewish community in Cardiff, with an artist-heroine who is shunned twice over but just keeps going.