The Valley, The City, The Village: Stories of Wales and India

Published Fri 3 Feb 2017 - By Literature Wales
Natalie Ann Holborow

Parthian Books, Literature Wales and Wales Arts Review have teamed up with Bee Books in Kolkata, India for a new collaborative literature project between Welsh and Indian writers, entitled The Valley, The City, The Village.

Taking the title from Glyn Jones’s classic novel The Valley, the City, the Village the project involves three writers from each country visiting India and Wales respectively, focusing on aspects of modern society in locations referenced in the title and engaging with these through writing poetry, prose, blogs and stories. The project will result in an anthology featuring all the writers involved which will be published by Parthian in 2018.

The project is generously funded by a grant from Wales Arts International and British Council’s India Wales Fund. The India Wales Fund is a joint initiative between Wales Arts International and the British Council. The purpose of the fund is to support artistic collaboration and exchange between creative professionals and arts organisations in Wales and India, which will build sustainable relationships and networks between the two countries. This is the only literature-based project funded in this round of application.

Three writers from Wales have been selected to take part in this project: Natalie Ann Holborow (a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary recipient) whose first poetry collection And Suddenly You Find Yourself is launched on Saturday 4 February at the biggest book fair in the world, the International Kolkata Book Fair. She is accompanied by Siôn Tomos Owen whose innovative bilingual collection Cawl has received rave reviews. Sion, who is also the presenter of the hit TV documentary programme Pobol Y Rhondda, will be drawing, singing and writing as part of the project. The two writers are joined by the Young People’s Laureate for Wales Sophie McKeand who will be leading a series of workshops on creativity for Kolkata schools.

Together, they will stay in India for three weeks until mid-February 2017 to attend Kolkata Book Fair, take part in numerous readings, events and projects and collaborate with three selected Indian writers, including Arunava Sinha, a noted Indian translator of Bengali literature. During their stay, they will be hosted by publishing company Bee Books, who have launched a list of new European writing across India.

Esha Chatterjee, CEO, Bee Books commented: “The book fair is an exciting experience for writers, last year we had two and half million people attend over ten days. The people of Kolkata see it as the highlight of the year, there’s just so many books. We’re particularly delighted to welcome our new writer friends from Wales – they’ll love it.”

Richard Davies, Director Parthian Books, said: “As a publisher, Parthian is always interested in new writing, new ideas and new perspectives as part of our Carnival of Voices programme. Through The Valley, The City, The Village we are collaborating to create an opportunity for writers from Wales – who we see as some of the best in their generation – to extend their work in a completely new culture and environment. A published anthology reflecting on modern Indian and Welsh life and experience, curated by the writers themselves, will ensure a lasting legacy of the project and enable wider engagement with new audiences.”

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales, said: “To take part in this exchange with Indian writers is an amazing opportunity for three of Wales’ finest emerging and established writers. It will foster their creativity, digital learning and contribute to their understanding of Indian literary and linguistic diversity. Working in partnership with Parthian and Wales Arts Review, Literature Wales is pleased to contribute to raising the profile of writers and the writing of Wales on an international stage with this project. We very much look forward to meeting the Indian writers in May and to the Parthian publication that will be one of the outcomes of this exchange.”

Gary Raymond, Editor, Wales Arts Review, commented: “Wales Arts Review is extremely excited to partner up with such innovative and outward-thinking organisations as Parthian, Bee Books and Literature Wales. For us the attraction is in the internationalism of the idea that we share not only our knowledge and culture, but also our landscape. The development of cross-cultural relationships this project encourages is exactly what Wales Arts Review was set up to pursue. Literature, culture, art, is not isolationist, but concerned with conversations, the sharing of ideas, the development of work without borders, and this is exactly what The Valley, The City, The Village will seek to do. And at the end of it all will be a book, the ultimate testament to this exchange.”

Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts, British Council Wales, said: “We are delighted that this fantastic partnership between Parthian, Literature Wales, Wales Art Review and Bee Books is opening India Wales. It will be an excellent opportunity for Wales to showcase some of its best new writing in India and for a leading Welsh publisher to set up a long-lasting collaboration with one of the most exciting publishers in India. The India Wales fund is being launched at a crucial moment for Wales’ relationship with the rest of the world. The fund enables us to showcase the value of global connections. In addition to The Valley, The City, The Village, the fund presents a rich and diverse portfolio of high-profile projects, bringing together major cultural entities in Wales with strong Indian partners to create platforms for cultural exchange.”

Nicola Morgan, Head of Wales Arts International, said: “The India Wales fund is a brilliant opportunity for Welsh cultural organisations and artists to work closely with partners in India. The fund celebrates cultural excellence, innovation and exchange and will no doubt create new pathways for future collaboration and trade between the two countries. The pairing up of two independent publishers, Parthian and Bee books, which gives Natalie Ann Holborow the opportunity to launch her latest book at the world’s largest book fair, is an excellent example of the type of project the India Wales fund is pleased to help facilitate.”

The visiting writers from India will spend three weeks in Wales in May/June 2017 and will take part in a number of events, including:

  • A high-profile public event at Hay Festival.
  • An event at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, where the participating writers will be joined by other Welsh writers. Tŷ Newydd will also function as a base for at least one of the visiting Indian writers during their stay in Wales.
  • A weekend mini festival in Llansteffan featuring participating writers and Parthian authors.
  • An event in Swansea, in partnership with Swansea University.
  • Events at Cardiff Central Library in collaboration with Wales Arts Review, Welsh and Indian authors and members of the Indian diaspora community.

Each of the writers involved will be commissioned to contribute a piece of work to the anthology, while also selecting two pieces that they feel represents the culture they have experienced in the country they have visited. During their stay in Wales, the Indian writers will blog and write about their visit on which will also feature interviews and promotions for the visit in real time. The Welsh writers visiting India have been blogging on a website hosted by the Kolkata Bloggers.

For further information, contact Parthian Books on: 01792 606 605 /
or Literature Wales: 029 2047 2266 /