2020 Awards


We have now closed for entries and will announce the shortlist and highly commended entries here on 13 May 2020 ; this is a slightly later date than initially advertised. The winner will be announced online on Friday 22 May 2020. Thank you to all who have entered.

From Judge Gwen Davies:

This is my sixth year judging these Awards, for which I am this year sole judge. Our category this year is the Rheidol Prize for Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting. 

The Awards champion short unpublished books (between 5,000 and 30,000 words) in English. The brief for this category, for the second year, nurtured a closer focus on homegrown subjects and settings (while of course these may wander into the ‘foreign country’ of the past as well as setting the past into dialogue with the present and future). We are once again promoting both nonfiction and, for the first time in these Awards’ history, the short story (as well as our everlasting favourite, the novella). The shorter length, just shy of book-length and perfect for the Kindle single format, will be once again embraced, as we continue to celebrate concision but throw our doors open to a vast range of writing forms and experiences.

This year’s competition follows successful prizes in previous years, which resulted in the publication of books including Eluned Gramich’s Woman Who Brings the Rain (Wales Book of the Year shortlist, 2016); Bush Meat by Mandy Sutter (‘Triumphs, in its lean prose… humour… [and] evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria. Stitches together the threads of memory to create a moving tapestry of lost life, building bridges of understanding across time and place.’ Rory MacLean), Cath Barton’s The Plankton Collector, a magical haunting tale of family healing that Mavis Cheek found she ‘couldn’t put… down’, the poignant and rigorous memoir on anorexia, My Oxford, by Catherine Haines and, just published on Halloween, Ed Garland’s genre-busting nonfiction title, Earwitness: A Search for Sonic Understanding in Stories.

I am the sole judge for the 2020 competition for a Welsh-set or themed- novella or nonfiction book (my credits as literary translator include The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis, Honno, 2019, and Martha, Jack and Shanco, also by Caryl Lewis, Parthian, 2007, as well as short fiction by Mihangel Morgan and William Owen Roberts). I cross borders as a literary translator and as editor of New Welsh Review, bringing authors and artists from all corners of the world and their professions into creative exchange here in Wales. Since economy and precision are what journals are all about, it seems right that these Awards, for unpublished books up to 30,000 words, endorse the shorter publication formats which the digital age has made possible. I’m certain that this competition will unveil a host of talent we can add to the stable of writers that have already found a home in our pages. Watch this space for our highly commended and shortlist announcement here on 13 May!

The first-placed winners of each category will receive £1,000 in cash as an advance for an e-book deal published by New Welsh Review under the New Welsh Rarebyte imprint. Leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown will also give the winner a positive critique of their submission. I am currently helping the 2019 winner, Peter Goulding, develop for publishing his debut nonfiction title, Slatehead an account of rockclimbing on slate which combines elements of memoir, sports writing, character portraiture, nature writing, a humble tribute to Snowdonia’s quarrymen, and a cultural portrait of 1980s creative dole-claimants who migrated from Liverpool and Manchester to north Wales to develop the art of scaling the slopes of quick-drying faces. The e-book comes out on 4 June 2020.

The prize for second place is a one-week residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales, the beautiful former home of Lloyd George. Third prize for the runner-up is a two-night stay at Gladstone’s residential library in Flintshire, north Wales, another gorgeous peaceful venue, also connected with a former Liberal Prime Minister, and voted ‘Top Wellbeing Retreat’ by Guardian readers in 2015.

Each prizewinner will also receive a one-year subscription to New Welsh Review. In addition, the six entries ranking highest in the competition will be considered for publication in our creative print magazine, New Welsh Reader, with our standard fee. Entries to the prize will be shortlisted on 13 May 2020. The winner will be here online on Friday 22 May.

Best of luck!


Gwen Davies has been editor of New Welsh Review since 2011. She has worked as creative editor at publishers including Parthian, and founded the imprints Alcemi and New Welsh Rarebyte. As a literary translator her titles include Robin Llywelyn’s White Star (Seren Wen) and two of bestseller Caryl Lewis’ novels, Martha, Jack & Shanco (Martha, Jac a Sianco, Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller (Y Gemydd, Honno, 2019). She has also been a Literature Officer at the Arts Council of Wales, a member and Chair of Literature Wales’ Writers’ Bursaries Panel for seven years, represented literature for the Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Wales Awards and has been a writers’ mentor, both privately and for Literature Wales. She has been co-judge for the New Welsh Writing Awards since its inauguration in 2015. She grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire and now lives in Aberystwyth with her family. Gwen is acting as sole judge of the Rheidol Prize for Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting in 2020.