On Thursday 10 July Literature Wales announced that Pink Mist by Owen Sheers had been named Wales Book of the Year 2014.
Pink Mist topped the Poetry category which is titled the Roland Mathias Poetry Award. After months of careful consideration judges Jasper Rees, Andrew Webb and Nadia Kamil have concluded that Pink Mist is the well-deserving winner of the overall English-language Wales Book of the Year Award.
Pink Mist, published in 2013 by Faber & Faber, is a verse-drama about three young soldiers from Bristol who are deployed to Afghanistan. The poem discusses the effect of war on Arthur, Hads and Taff and on those closest to them when they return from service. This is the second time Owen Sheers has won the Wales Book of the Year Award having first received the title for his book The Dust Diaries (Faber & Faber) in 2005.
The theme of war continues with this year’s Fiction category winner – The Rice Paper Diaries (Seren) by Francesca Rhydderch a novel which is set both in wartime Hong Kong and in west Wales. Meic Stephens topped the Creative Non-Fiction category with Rhys Davies: A Writer’s Life (Parthian), the first full biography of one of Wales’ most prolific writers.
Each category winner was awarded £2,000, and the main award winner in each language received an additional £6,000. All award-winners were also presented with a beautiful stainless steel trophy designed and created by Angharad Pearce Jones.
Nadia Kamil said on behalf of the English-language judging panel: "We were looking for books that excited us and ones that made us want to continue reading. Francesca Rhydderch impressed us with emotional depth which carries the reader deep into the interior of the main characters, and Meic Stephens with his intimately researched portrait of the Blaenclydach born Rhys Davies, who was driven to write above all else. But for his powerfully direct prose play exposing the fragile humanity of boys and the women who support them, we were unanimous in our decision that the Wales Book of the Year 2014 is Pink Mist by Owen Sheers."
The readers of Wales however were not in agreement with the judging panel this year as the People’s Choice Award was presented to Tyler Keevil for The Drive (Myriad Editions). The People’s Choice Award is administered by Media Wales, who commissioned Cardiff School of Art student Rhiannon Roberts to create the 2014 trophy.
The overall winner of the Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award 2014 is Ioan Kidd with his novel Dewis (Gwasg Gomer), a brave and skilful novel which follows Mari and her family as they are faced with many complicated situations and events. The winner of the Poetry category is Christine James with her collection Rhwng y Llinellau (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas), and Alan Llwyd took home the Creative Non-Fiction prize for his biography of R. Williams Parry, Bob: Cofiant R. Williams Parry 1884 – 1956 (Gwasg Gomer).
The winners were announced at a glittering award ceremony held at Galeri Caernarfon. This is the first time that the long-awaited conclusion to this prestigious award has been held at this busy arts centre.
Literature Wales Chief Executive, Lleucu Siencyn, said: "We are delighted to have announced the winners of the 2014 Wales Book of the Year Award in Caernarfon. This is a book-loving town, and local support has ensured the success of this evening. From Japan to New Quay, Afghanistan to Bristol, Fitzrovia to Blaenclydach the 2014 winners have guided readers to near and distant lands. Many congratulations to Meic Stephens, Francesca Rhydderch and of course to second time winner Owen Sheers."
The Wales Book of the Year Award is administered by Literature Wales in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales, The Brecknock Society, Pethe, Golwg360, Media Wales and the Welsh Books Council.