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.
- 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
- 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
- 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….
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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
- 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
- Alexander Cordell was a prolific novelist in the 1950s and 60s – he write around 30 novels including Rape of the Fair Country, Hosts of Rebecca and Song of the Earth. A good choice for anyone who wants to understand some of the industrial heritage of the country.
- 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
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…..