Gareth Williams’ powerful novel -set on Crete- wins Wales Book of the Year Award 2015

A powerful novel, set on the island of Crete during the Second World War, won an author a prestigious book award.

Gareth F Williams, originally from Porthmadog, was the winner of the main Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award for his novel Awst yn Anogia.

He took home two trophies and cheques totalling £8,000 and a stainless steel trophy created by Angharad Pierce Jones.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at Galeri Caernarfon.

Gareth said: “I had been on holiday to Cephalonia, another Greek island, and afterwards started reading about the island and in one article it mentioned what had happened in Anogia on Crete.

“I immediately thought there was material for a strong story here.”

Gareth Potter, on behalf of the judges, said the book is full of compelling characters and despite being more than 500 pages long he could not put the book down.

A six-time winner on the children’s Tir Na Nog award this was the first time he has won Wales Book of the Year Award.

He said: “I can’t describe how good it feels winning this award. It inspires you to go home and start writing straight away. I’ve won the Tir Na Nog award six times and I still get the same kick of excitement.”

Llŷr Gwyn Lewis took home the Creative Non-Fiction Award for his volume Rhyw Flodau Rhyfel.

Accepting the award he said it was based on the wartime experiences of an uncle in the Middle east.

“He fought in the Palmyra area of Syria, an area where war is still raging. We don’t seem to learn any lessons from war,” he said.

The winner of the poetry category is Un Stribedyn Bach by National Eisteddfod chair winner Rhys Iorwerth.

The winner of Gwobr Barn y Bobl, the Welsh-language public vote, was Saith Oes Efa by Lleucu Roberts.

Caernarfon-based writer Patrick McGuinness wrote the English-language Wales Book of the Year 2015.

His book, Other People’s Countries, the book centres on the town of Bouillon on the Belgian border, where the author’s mother came from and where he has been going three times a year since he was a child.

It was the second time Patrick has won the Wales Book of the Year Award, having been awarded the main prize in 2012 with his novel The Last Hundred Days.

Paul Henry, on behalf of the English-language judging panel, said: “The stylistic quality of this brilliant, lyrical memoir is best described through a simile from the book where a bracelet of water “doesn’t run over the stones but flexes like clear muscle over its riverbed.” It’s a poet’s prose at its best – perfectly paced, effortless in its devices.”

The winner of the Roland Mathias Poetry Award 2015 was So Many Moving Parts by Tiffany Atkinson, an eccentric meditation on the awkwardness of body and spirit and their unexpected, often unwanted intrusions into everyday life.

The 2015 Fiction Category winner was The Dig by Cynan Jones. Judges said the novel is built on the interlocking fates of a badger-baiter and a disconsolate farmer.

The Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Prize 2015 winner is Jonathan Edwards with his poetry collection My Family and Other Superheroes.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “Reaching the Wales Book of the Year Short List is no mean feat.

“It’s also wonderful to see Welsh writers set their sights firmly on the horizon, taking the readers of Wales to distant lands and embracing different cultures and histories whilst succeeding to stay true to our own.”

Daily Post

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