Exceptional literature in Wales was recognised at the Wales Book of the Year Award in a ceremony held at the Tramshed.

The Wales Book of the Year prizes are awarded to the best Welsh and English-language works published in the previous calendar year in three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales who administer the awards, said: “It’s vital that we have a national book award which gives a platform to all our literary genres – and treats our two languages equally.”

Robert Minhinnick’s Diary of the Last Man, a walk across an uncertain, changing Britain was named Wales Book of the Year 2018, winning a specially commissioned trophy designed by artist Angharad Pearce Jones. The award was presented by the Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, Phil George. Minhinnick has won at the awards twice before for Best Individual Poem. Diary of the Last Man was also awarded The Roland Mathias Poetry Award.

Producer, author and judge Carolyn Hitt spoke about the power of Minhinnnick’s book: “This is environmentalism turned into elegy. It’s so powerful, so political. These are serious poems for serious times…that will stay with you and make you think about what we’re doing to the planet.”

The first award of the evening was presented to Tristan Hughes - author and lecturer of Creative Writing at Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy. His coming-of-age tale Hummingbird captured the imagination of the reading public, winning the The Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Prize.

English-language winners included Crystal Jeans, awarded the Fiction Award for Light Switches Are My Kryptonite. All that is Wales by M. Wynn Thomas took home the Creative Non-Fiction Award.

The overall winner of the Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award - as well as the Creative Non-fiction Award - was Blodau Cymru: Byd y Planhigion by Goronwy Wynne, a comprehensive introduction by a renowned botanist to Welsh plants and flowers. This prize was presented by the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM. Other Welsh-language winners include Catrin Dafydd’s Gwales for the Fiction Award. Hywel Griffiths’ Llif Coch Awst won the Poetry Award. The Welsh-language people’s choice prize, Golwg 360 Barn y Bobl, was won by Peredur Lynch’s first poetry collection, Caeth a Rhydd.

Speaking for the English-language judging panel, poet and editor Kathryn Gray said: “Wales Book of the Year celebrates the brilliant achievements of our literature. And it’s a testament to the exceptional quality of the writers who ultimately prevailed to emphasise that this was a particularly strong year across the categories.

Our winners have produced what we consider to be essential contributions, packing a beautiful punch – as only the best writing can do. Judging this prize was, for all of us, an invigorating experience. Our nation may be small, but Wales is home to fierce talent.”

For more information on the authors visit the Literature Wales website.

Photo credit: © Literature Wales / Camera Sioned

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