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Let The Battle Of The Celts Begin

The battle between two Celtic nations is about to begin.

I’m not talking about the battle played out annually on the rugby pitch during the Six Nations Championship. I know it’s hard for some people to realise but there are other things in life beside rugby.

No this is a battle of words: a literary clash between Ireland and Wales. Those two nations go head to head in Reading Ireland Month hosted by Cathy @746books and Reading Wales Month (also known as Dewithon) hosted by Paula @BookJotter.

I love both of these reading events but their presence in the same calendar month presents a personal dilemma.

As a native born Welsh person of course I’m going to join in with Dewithon. It’s a glorious opportunity to celebrate local talent; talent that sadly gets overlooked too often by big publishing houses.

But I also have Irish blood in my veins through my great great grandparents so I feel I should also fly the fly for Irish authors.

But of course I don’t have unlimited time. So I’m going to have to be selective.

In the Welsh corner I have a large number of classics, many of them re-published by two of the nation’s independent presses: Honno and Parthian. I’m going to bet that most of the people reading this blog have never heard of the authors.

Two shown in the top of the photo are recent releases by Honno, autobiographies that celebrating the work of Margiad Evans. The others are books I’ve had on my shelves for many years, somehow never getting around to reading them. A Time to Laugh by Rhys Davies which is set in a coal-mining valley experiencing industrial unrest and social change, is the one calling most strongly to me at the moment.  

The photo doesn’t tell the whole story because it shows only the paper versions. I tend to forget about all the e-books I also have which include works by contemporary authors like Bev Jones, Alis Hawkins and Emma Kavanagh.

Facing up to them from the Irish corner is this selection. Unlike their Welsh counterparts, most of the Irish authors in my shelves need no introduction.

Murdoch is an author I contemplate with some trepidation. I did enjoy her Booker-winning The Sea The Sea but I’ve tried a few of her other books and found them too hard to penetrate. Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favourite authors but this is the only one of hers I’ve not read so (probably foolishly) I’m thinking to save that for another day. Slammerkin I’m not sure about. It’s set in the late 1700s, relating the story of a young daughter from a poor family who is lured into prostitution at the age of 13 because she hungers for fine clothes and ribbons. After my most recent experience with historical fiction I’m a tad nervous about reading another one so soon. So it might come down to Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan, an author I’ve come to love over the last few years.

But of course all that could change when it comes to the point when my hand goes to the bookcase to pick a new book.

I wonder who will triumph: Ireland or Wales??

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