Tuesday 17 July 2012

Patrick McGuinness wins Wales Book of the Year 2012

Patrick McGuinness is named overall winner of the Wales Book of the Year Award 2012, after winning the Fiction category for his novel, The Last Hundred Days (Seren). This is the first year categories have been introduced to the prize. The other category winners are Richard Gwyn, who took the prize for Creative Non-Fiction with his memoir, The Vagabond’s Breakfast (Alcemi), and Gwyneth Lewis who won the Roland Mathias Poetry Award for her collection, Sparrow Tree (Bloodaxe Books). 

The category winners recieved £2,000 each and an additional £6,000 was awarded to the overall winner in both Welsh and English. 

The announcements were made at a ceremony held by Literature Wales at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on Thursday 12 July. The winners were presented with their cheques by Leighton Andrews, Minister for Skills and Education and Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, Professor Dai Smith. Patrick McGuinness is already a renowned poet and this, his debut novel, has achieved world-wide recognition, having reached both the Costa First Novel Award Short List and The Man Booker Prize Long List in 2011.

The English-language judges for 2012 were Dr Spencer Jordan (Chair), Dr Sam Adams and Trezza Azzopardi. Spencer Jordan, said of Patrick McGuinness’ novel: “In a world turned upside by the Arab Spring and economic cataclysm, can there be a more apposite or important book than The Last Hundred Days? I doubt it. Set against the backdrop of Ceaucescu's crumbling regime, the book explores the very human cost when society itself begins to self destruct.” 

Fiction Category Winner and overall winner:
Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days (Seren)

Creative Non-Fiction Category Winner:
Richard Gwyn, The Vagabond's Breakfast (Alcemi)

The Roland Mathias Poetry Award Winner:
Gwyneth Lewis, Sparrow Tree (Bloodaxe Books)

It proved to be a successful year for poetry as Philip Gross was named the public’s favourite, winning Media Wales’ People’s Choice Award for his poetry collection, Deep Field (Bloodaxe Books).    

“Each of the three category winners are writers at the very top of their game,” said Spencer Jordan. “Writing is never more compelling or braver than when it comes from the heart, and that's what these three books do. In their own small way, each is a manifesto for the human soul in the twenty first century”.

“It has been fantastic to be able to reward a greater range of writers this year following the introduction of the categories, and it’s great to see poetry, a genre which has been sidelined in the past, step into the limelight,” said
Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales. “I’d also like to congratulate all the authors who reached the Short List, which is no mean feat in itself. The strength of the Short List manifests the flourishing publishing industry that exists in Wales today, defiant in light of the current economic climate.”

The main Welsh-language winner this year was also the winner of the Fiction category; International Fellow of the Hay Festival
Jon Gower. His novel, Y Storïwr (Gwasg Gomer) fittingly follows a young man who has an exceptional talent for storytelling.

Allan James won the Welsh-language Creative Non-Fiction Category for his study of the scholar and poet, John Morris-Jones, (University of Wales Press) and poet Karen Owen topped the Welsh Poetry category. Karen celebrated a double win as she also won the Welsh Language People’s Prize sponsored by Golwg360.

Keep an eye out for pictures from the ceremony on to the Wales Book of the Year website soon. 

Source: press release from Literature Wales

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