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Coming To Your Shelves This Spring: New Books From Welsh Publishers

The output of the Welsh publishing sector may not be as prolific as their counterparts elsewhere in the UK, but what it lacks in numbers, it more than delivers on quality and variety.

The small community of independent and specialist publishers champion the cause of writers born in Wales and those who have chosen to make the country their home.

Here are a few titles coming out this Spring that have caught my interest.

Honno Press

Published this month is Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin an author I’ve enjoyed in the past (see my reviews of Ghostbird and Snow Sisters). Just like those novels, Wild Spinning Girls, features an old house that has secrets and a protagonist who has to learn to let go of the past.

The Memory by Judith Barrow also takes secrets and memories as its theme. I’ve not read any of Judith’s work yet but this one sounds interesting. It’ features the difficult relationship between a mother and her daughter. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past about the sister who died 30 years earlier. The Memory is due out on 19 March.

Seren Books

Seren has always enjoyed a strong reputation for the spotlight it provides Welsh poets. They’re continuing to do that this year with two new collections due out in February. The first of these caught my eye simply because of the very strange cover art….

The Machineries of Joy is Peter Finch’s 26th poetry collection. Seren says it’s “chock-full of acute observation, pointed asides, startled reactions, formal dislocations and structural invention.”

Also coming out with a new collection is Andre Mangeot with Blood Rain. Many of the featured poems are inspired by the his love of the landscape of Wales and in particular the dramatic vistas of the mountains of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.

Parthian Books

One of the things I’ve long admired about Parthian is the way they bring an element of diversity to their output. That’s very much in evidence again this year with books from a Sommalian refugee, a Latvian author from the Cold War era and one of the most respected voices in contemporary Welsh literature.

They have some really exciting sounding books coming out in April and again in the summer but you’ll have to wait for news of those later on in the year.

For now, I’ll just mention one that was launched just a few weeks ago.

I, Eric Ngalle is a remarkable true life account of a young man who left Sommalia believing he would soon be in Belgium, studying for an economics degree. But the travel plans went wrong and instead he ended up in Russia. After his passport was stolen, he spent two years as an illegal immigrant. Somehow (and I’m very curious how this happened) he ended up in Wales where he studied history and is now doing an MA in creative writing.

That’s all for now but I’ll be back with some more titles in a few months. If you’ve never read anything by a Welsh publisher I hope I’ve done enough to persuade you to lend them your support!

Books to mark Wales’ special day

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus i chi!

daffodils in snow

March 1 is St David’s Day in Wales —St David being our patron saint — so usually a day for celebration of all things Welsh. The celebrations will be very muted this year however with schools closed and concerts cancelled because of Storm Emma, so I thought I would mark the occasion by highlighting some new books from authors and publishers based in Wales.

 

One Woman Walks WalesOne Woman Walks Wales. Ursula Martin is a remarkable account of a courageous woman. After a cancer diagnosis and then Ursula Martin was too weak to  walk more than a few steps. But she is a determined woman so she set a goal  to walk the four miles to her nearest post box every day. Her progress was so slow drivers would stop to offer her a lift. She persevered.

Her next goal was even more ambitious: to walk the 200 miles to her follow up appointment with the medical team. Coming out of the meeting, she headed back home on foot. And then just kept walking…..

In 17 months, she walked the length and breadth of Wales, across its beaches, up and down the coastal paths, through mountains, farms and urban sprawl.

One Woman Walks Wales is publsihed by Honno. If you order direct from their site they will make a donation of £1 to the Target Ovarian Cancer charity.

Also coming soon from Honno is Albi by Hilary Shepherd which is set in Spain in 1930s. The Civil War turns everything upside down for nine-year-old Albi and his family. They are under siege from outside and held captive by secrets within the home. Albi must sometimes close his ears and his eyes if he is to survive.

The Glass AisleSeren Books have a strong poetry collection, the newest addition to which is The Glass Aisle by Paul Henry. It features twenty eight poems including an elergy  to displaced workhouse residents, set on a stretch of canal in the Brecon Beacons National Park. A performance version of  The Glass Aisle, featuring songs co-written with fellow musician and songwriter Brian Briggs, (‘Stornoway’), is currently touring festivals.  More details can be found on the Seren website.

I mentioned another of their recent publications May by Naomi Krüger in my recent Bookends post. It’s a novel written from the perspective of a woman with dementia who is trying to piece together the fragments of her memory. Definitely one I am going to be buying.

Hummingbird.pngWelsh publisher, Parthian, is offering Hummingbird by Tristan Hughes, a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Wales. Born in  Ontario, he spent his childhood on th Welsh island of Ynys Mon. Hummingbird, his fourth novel takes him back to Canada, to a remote location where fifteen-year-old Zachary Tayler lives a lonely and isolated life with his father. One summer the enigmatic Eva Spiller arrives in search of the remains of her parents and together they embark on a strange and disconcerting journey of discovery. This novel won the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award for 2018. More details are on the Parthian website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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