COSTA Award winner Jonathan Edwards came second with Some News from the Teaching Profession, a wry and satirical collection of stories about teaching, bureaucracy and avoiding responsibility; Jonathan wins a week-long retreat or course at Literature Wales’ Ty Newydd. Meanwhile, Cardiff’s Ruby D. Jones came third with An Anatomy of Shame, an essay which combines research, memoir, psychology, neuroscience and literature against an authentically Welsh backdrop and looks at the phenomenon of trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder). Ruby wins a two-night stay at Gladstone’s Library and both runners-up will also receive a year-long subscription to New Welsh Review and excerpts of their winning pieces will appear in the Autumn 2020 edition of the print magazine, the New Welsh Reader.
New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies once again judged the Awards for the sixth year in a row. Gwen’s adjudication of Susan Karen Burton’s piece is: “This is absolutely beautiful writing. Its subject – Catharine, the daughter of Welsh architect Richard Huws and artist and poet Edrica – is presented as being utterly at one with her surroundings, as is the author in her Japanese setting. So superb is this essay’s visualisation of physical space and loving detail lavished on objects and the places we call home that I assumed she must be a professional writer on architecture. The interiority of her strikingly female style (though this was judged anonymously) hits the perfect register between cool fact, analysis, compelling narrative arc, cultural hinterland of historical detail, perception of character in a celebration of a mid-century matriarch, and personal voice. These are the merits of great nonfiction writing. The links between north Wales and Japan are kept flowing, while a keen focus is kept on Catharine in her Japanese home and milieu. This is no traditional account of a dusty corner of the Welsh diaspora. Catharine and her new home are metropolitan and international, as is the author’s outlook. This is a superlative exploration of national identity and the possibility (or not) of hybrid identity. I am delighted that Susan joins Eluned Gramich, our first Awards winner in 2015, in presenting the intricacy of Japan to a Welsh and UK readership.”
Sponsor RS Powell says: “I am proud to have sponsored the Rheidol Prize for the second year. I was immensely impressed by both the quality and range of the entries. This shows that writing from and about Wales and the Welsh has a great deal to offer. The Prize aims to help make it accessible to a wider public and I hope the writers will reach the readership they deserve.”
The Awards were set up in 2015 to champion the best short-form writing (under 30,000 words) and were open to all writers based in the UK and Ireland plus those who live overseas who have been educated in Wales. Last year, the winner of the Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting was Peter Goulding for Slatehead: The Ascent of Britain’s Slate-climbing Scene which New Welsh Review will publish in e-book format on 4 June 2020 and in paperback on 29 October 2020. JL George won the Dystopian Novella category with The Word which will be published in e-book format on 29 October 2020.