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Wales Book of the Year 2016: A hat-trick for Thomas Morris’ debut collection

On 21 July Literature Wales announced that We Don’t Know What

We’re Doing by Thomas Morris is the winner of Wales Book of the Year 2016.

Thomas Morris’ debut collection of short stories was first awarded the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award before moving on to win the main English-language award securing an overall prize of £4,000 to the author as well as a specially commissioned trophy designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones. The prize was presented to Thomas by the Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, Phil George. The readers of Wales agreed wholeheartedly with the judgeschoice this year, as Thomas also won the public vote for the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award.

Set in Caerphilly, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, published by Faber & Faber, reveals its treasures in unexpected ways, offering vivid and moving glimpses of the lost, lonely and bemused. By turns poignant, witty, tender and bizarre - these entertaining stories detail the lives of people who know where they are, but don't know what they're doing.

The winner of the Roland Mathias Poetry Award is Philip Gross for his collection Love Songs of Carbon (Bloodaxe Books), his eighteenth poetry collection. Love Songs of Carbon is a coming of age volume inhabiting the ageing body with a confident, inventive curiosity. The winner of The Open University in Wales Creative Non-Fiction Award is Jasmine Donahaye for Losing Israel (Seren), where the author’s search for her family's past and the part her forebears played in the newly created Israel reveals unsettling knowledge about kibbutzim in Israel. The category winners each received a prize of £1,000.

On the English-language judging panel this year are Professor Tony Brown of Bangor University; Associate Editor of The Bookseller, Caroline Sanderson, and Director of National Trust Wales, Justin Albert.

On behalf of the judging panel, Justin Albert said: “This year’s shortlist consisted of nine outstanding books which highlight the diversity and the breadth of Welsh Literature. Whether experienced or upcoming, these writers are great talents who have succeeded in proving that Wales is a world-class contributor to literature.

The winner of the Welsh-language main award is Caryl Lewis for her novel Y Bwthyn (Y Lolfa), a subtle and lyrical story where the mountain and its seasons take centre stage. The award was presented to Caryl by the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies. This is the second time

Caryl has won Wales Book of the Year having received the main award in 2005 for her novel Martha Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa). Caryl secured the second hat-trick of the night as she was also awarded the Welsh-language people’s choice award sponsored by Golwg360.

The winner of the Aberystwyth University School of Welsh and Celtic Studies Poetry Award is Mererid Hopwood with Nes Draw (Gwasg Gomer). Although she is a well-respected and award-winning poet, Nes Draw is Mererid Hopwood’s first full collection of poems. The winner of The Open University in Wales Welsh-language Creative Non-Fiction Award is Gruffydd Aled Williams with Dyddiau Olaf Owain Glyndŵr (Y Lolfa), a study of the last days of Owain Glyndŵr. The Welsh-language judging panel for 2016 are writer Lleucu Roberts, lecturer and poet Llion Roberts, and BBC Radio 1 and Radio Cymru DJ Huw Stephens.

The winners were announced at an award ceremony held in The Redhouse, Merthyr Tydfil on Thursday 21 July in the company of the competition’s judges, shortlisted writers and their guests, publishers, partners and members of the public.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. We had a wonderful evening here in Merthyr, and we were delighted to welcome the shortlisted writers and their families to The Redhouse for this celebration of Welsh literature. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to pick up and read these books; a literary feast awaits you.”

For further information on the Wales Book of the Year Award visit:

www.literaturewales.org/book-of-the-year