10 Welsh authors for the festive season #WritingWales

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme asks us to think ahead to Dec 25 and what books we would recommend for friends, relatives etc. What a great opportunity to promote books by Welsh authors some of whom you will be familiar with but others will be unknown quantities.

  1. Let’s start with one of the biggest names and the one you will certainly have heard of – Dylan Thomas. You may have read his poetry or seen a version of Under Milk Wood but my recommendation given the season is to try get the rather delightful  A Child’s Christmas in Wales
  2. One name even bigger than Thomas is Roald Dahl who was born in Cardiff – this year saw a big splash because its his centenary year.  I have a fondness for my first Dahl book – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  3. Ken Follett was born in Cardiff, Wales and lived there until he was 10 years old. Of his many novels Pillars of the Earth stands out for being the longest (its a trilogy covering five families from war through to the 1980s.). Rather more manageable is The Man from St Petersburg which is set in 1914 as the world prepares for war. This was the first Follett book I read and I can recall being entranced by it….
  4. Sarah Waters: Yes this leading author of Tipping the Velvet is from Wales. All her novels fall into the highly readable category. I made the mistake of buying The Paying Guests (my review is here) as a Christmas gift to my mum last year. I was reading it myself and thought it was pretty good – that was before I got to the rather detailed lesbian love scenes. I’m not sure if she ever read it but she has put it in a bag of books to go to the charity shop.
  5. Cynan Jones  won the Wales Book of the Year prize for fiction with The Dig, (a novel about a badger baiter, and a grieving farmer). His latest novel Cove which came out this month is rather different – the Guardian described it as “a minimal, occasionally mysterious, man-versus-the-elements fable.”
  6. Jan Morris, a  historian, author and travel writer (though she hates that last description). Read The Matter of Wales for an education into contemporary issues in the country written by someone who loves the country. Her style is lyrical and beautiful. There is a good review of this in the Guardian
  7. Gwyn Thomas. An erudite writer with an acerbic wit who became one of the leading voices at the BBC. Read The Alone to the Alone
  8. Alexander Cordell  was a prolific novelist in the 1950s and 60s – he write around 30 novels including Rape of the Fair CountryHosts of Rebecca and Song of the Earth. A good choice for anyone who wants to understand some of the industrial heritage of the country.
  9. Turning to more contemporary authors we have Carys Davies  a writer whom I’m discovered through her success in the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. I seldom read short stories but her winning collection  The Redemption of Galen Pike was superb
  10. Coming right up to date we have Carol Lovekin whose novel Ghost Bird was published just this month. I’ve not yet read it but it comes recommended by Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame) who called it “Charming, quirky, magical“.It was also the Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops Book of the Month in April this year. I;’m hoping someone might buy this for me this December…..

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on November 29, 2016, in Book Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday, Welsh authors and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Great post, Karen! Many of these authors are familiar to me, but I didn’t realize they all came from Wales!

  2. What a great list! Thank you so much for reminding me of some great Welsh writers -and also introducing me to new voices 🙂

  3. I didn’t know Dahl was Welsh! maybe that explains why his stories are so weird 😉

    • Weird isn’t a description I’ve heard applied to my fellow countrymen. Although come to think of it, it is rather odd behaviour to go to a rugby match wearing a hat in the shape of a daffodil which is what my sister does….

  4. If I had been pressed to name Welsh authors, I doubt that I could have gotten past Dylan Thomas, although I am familiar with Ken Follett and Sarah Waters. So I greatly appreciate this list that will help me to widen out in my reading!

    P.S. It also makes me realize that my lists of Canadian reading are worthwhile posting. Sometimes I think the names I put forth must be as familiar to the world as they are to me but, after reading your list, I suspect not. 😉

    • you might want to take a look at this guest post about Canadian literature https://bookertalk.com/2013/09/23/a-view-from-here-canada/

      would be good to get your reaction to this – maybe there are different names you would suggest

      • Tanya gave a brilliant overview of Canadian literature – both in the ‘classic’ authors and the newer ones. My only comment would be that, as she alluded, there are regional voices. I moved to Atlantic Canada from Ontario 15 years ago and now read many authors that my sister, also a voracious reader and who still lives in Ontario, has never heard of.

        A look at books in a country as large as Canada or the US would probably benefit from being broken into regions: Atlantic Canada, Central Canada (chiefly Ontario because the French puiblishing indutsry in Quebec is a beast unto itself and should be a separate category), and Western Canada. (I freely admit that I know little about authors west of the Great Lakes except for the few giants such as Guy Vanderhaeghe or Miriam Toews.)

  5. I had no idea that Sarah Waters was Welsh. I simply adore her ever since I read Fingersmith. I also loved The Little Stranger, though it was a bit different from her usual. I was a bit disappointed by The Paying Guests though. Thanks for the list!

  6. I found The Dig (Cynan Jones) really hard going and depressing. The writing was brilliant, but the subject … almost as depressing as The Road, even if equally well written.

    Dylan Thomas – never liked any of his stuff, I really think he was over-rated.

    Roald Dahl – brill. I recently watched all the old Tales of the Unexpected episodes – the ones he introduced were best, sat in his armchair by the fire. Very dry humour!

    I was trying to think of anything to add. I read some thrillers (horrors?) this year by a Welsh writer Carl Drinkwater, and was impressed at how tense they were – the kind of thing you’d expect to be set in America usually, but set in Wales. There was one set on a Welsh island where people started killing each other (Turner) and one about a harvest festival with aliens attacking Wales – that made me feel ill in parts, but was great because it focused more on the family at the heart of it than the gooshy stuff.

    I have only read one thing by Ken Follett – he wrote a novella to go with a computer game many years ago, and I thought it was a brilliant introduction to the world, with a Star Wars joke that made me laugh out loud at the time once I realised what he had written. I dread to think how long ago that was.

    I’ll go and look at some of the others from this list, I should support my home nation a bit more! Thanks for compiling it.

    • Karl Trinkwater isn’t elegible I’m afraid – he just lives here rather than being born in Wales I discovered from his website http://www.karldrinkwater.uk/p/about.html

      There were a few names I had to leave out since i was limited to just 10. If you like crime fiction, there is Belinda Bauer who lives in the Vale of Glamorgan. They are good psychological thrillers. If your tastes are lighter, there is Catrin Collier. She writes novels set in and around the Swansea area. Very popular though I don’t care for them much http://www.catrincollier.co.uk/novels.php

      • My mistake! I must have just read that he was based in Wales. Thanks for the other suggestions, I’ll follow them up. 🙂

  7. I read a book last year from Seren, a small Welsh publisher which ended up on my books of 2015 list. It’s Significance by Jo Mazelis – absolutely gripping!

  8. Oh Cynan Jones is WONDERFUL! I loved The Dig so much I went out and bought his other books. So far I’ve only read The Dry and I loved it too. He has a real flare for writing about the countryside and damaged people.

  9. I didn’t know that about Roald Dahl. He is one of my favourites. And Sarah Waters is a writer on my radar. I hope to read her soon

  10. I loved The Paying Guests, and plan to read more from Waters. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Owen Sheers, Kym Lloyd.

  12. The Man from St. Petersburg is a favorite of mine also. It and The Key to Rebecca must have been the first books I read by Follett.

  13. I’ll check to see if any of these books are in my library. I can always use a little author diversity! 🙂 I read Matilda as a kid and didn’t even think of where Dahl was from. My TTT

  14. Some interesting titles to investigate, good luck with the Ghost Bird for Christmas.

  15. Oh no, what about the formidable Bernice Rubens?

  16. I didn’t realise Sarah Waters was born in Wales so thank you for teaching me something new today. Love that you gave your Mum a copy of Paying Guests, a brilliant book but some steamy sapphic love too!

We're all friends here. Come and join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: