Caryl Lewis and Llŷr Titus win Wales Book of the Year Award 2023
Caryl Lewis has won the Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award twice in the past – for Martha, Jac, a Sianco in 2005 and Y Bwthyn in 2016 (both published by Y Lolfa) – making her the first writer to have won the Wales Book of the Year Award in both languages.
The Wales Book of the Year Award is an annual prize hosted by Literature Wales to celebrate literary talent from Wales across many genres and in both English and Welsh.
Prizes were awarded across four categories in each language – Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-fiction and Children & Young People. In addition, the Wales Arts Review’s People’s Choice Award and Golwg360’s Barn y Bobl Award winners were announced, revealing which books were the favourites among the public.
The English-language Wales Book of the Year category winners are as follows:
The Children & Young People Award: When the War Came Home, Lesley Parr (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award: Drift, Caryl Lewis (Doubleday – an imprint of Transworld, Penguin Random House)
The Poetry Award: As If To Sing, Paul Henry (Seren Poetry Wales Press Ltd)
The Creative Non-fiction Award: And… a memoir of my mother, Isabel Adonis (Black Bee Books)
Wales Arts Review’s People’s Choice Award: The Last Firefox, Lee Newbery (Penguin Random House Children’s)
More details about each category winner can be found on our Wales Book of the Year Award Winners 2023 page.
Each category winner received a prize of £1,000 and the main winners received an additional £3,000. Both the category winners and main winners also received an iconic Wales Book of the Year Award trophy, designed by artist and blacksmith Angharad Pearce Jones. Wales Arts Review’s People’s Choice Award winner received a ceramic piece by Cardiff-based artist Lisa Marie Tann from her Ogmore Series, and the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award winner received a piece of art by Mary Bath, a final year Illustration student from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
An independent panel of judges is appointed to read, discuss and select a shortlist every year. This year’s English-language judging panel included BAFTA-winning actress and writer Emily Burnett; author and teacher Emma Smith-Barton; poet and editor Kristian Evans and former Wales Book of the Year category winner, writer Mike Parker.
For the first time in four years, Literature Wales held a live ceremony to celebrate the writers and their books at The Tramshed in Cardiff. The evening was led by presenter Ffion Dafis, winner of the 2022 Overall Welsh Language Award (Mori, Y Lolfa), and included a performance by National Poet of Wales, Hanan Issa, a speech by Literature Wales’ Executive Director, Claire Furlong, adjudications from the judges and a contribution by representatives of Golwg360 and the Wales Arts Review.
The Wales Book of the Year Award plays an essential part in Literature Wales’ programme of activity and contribute to its strategic aim of celebrating and representing Wales’ writers, heritage and rich literary culture. The prize offers an invaluable platform to both emerging and established writers.
Literature Wales’ Executive Director, Claire Furlong, said:
“Huge congratulations to Caryl, Llŷr and to all the Wales Book of the Year Award 2023 winners. The novels claiming the overall prizes this year are both unique but are linked by their sense of place; their magical words are rooted in specific Welsh landscapes. We are incredibly pleased that, year-on-year, the Wales Book of the Year Award demonstrates the huge wealth of literary talent in and from Wales. We hope that the platform provided by this competition brings these fantastic books to the attention of even more readers, and that wider audiences are drawn to read Wales.”
Drift by Caryl Lewis
Caryl Lewis is a multi-award-winning Welsh novelist, children’s writer, playwright and screenwriter. Her breakthrough novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (2004) is widely regarded as a modern classic of Welsh literature and sits on the Welsh curriculum. The film adaptation – with a screenplay by Caryl herself – went on to win six Welsh BAFTAs and the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2010 Celtic Media Festival. Lewis’ other screenwriting work includes BBC/S4C thrillers Hinterland and Hidden. Caryl is a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing at Cardiff University, and lives with her family on a farm near Aberystwyth.
Drift is Caryl Lewis’ debut novel in the English language. Moving between the wild Welsh coast and war-torn Syria, Drift is a love story with a difference, and a hypnotic tale of lost identity, the quest for home and the wondrous resilience of the human spirit.
Judge Emily Burnett said:
“This piece of writing made us want to read out loud, to feel the tangible lure of magical words in our mouths. Wales hums throughout this writer’s work, and in doing so, this book seems to, in some ways, defy the categories. Poetry, Creative Non-fiction, the magic of Children’s Literature and the power of Fiction. ‘A story of love, magic and the irresistible lure of the sea’. It is a stunning piece of fiction, that swells with a magical lyricism and captures with sheer luminosity its characters, story and sense of place.”
The Welsh-language Awards
The Children & Young People Award: Dwi Eisiau Bod yn Ddeinosor, Luned Aaron & Huw Aaron (Atebol)
The Poetry Award: Anwyddoldeb, Elinor Wyn Reynolds (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas)
The Creative Non-fiction Award: Cylchu Cymru, Gareth Evans-Jones (Y Lolfa)
The Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award: Sgen i’m Syniad – Snogs, Secs, Sens, Gwenllian Ellis (Y Lolfa)
The Fiction Award, and Overall Wales Book of the Year Award: Pridd, Llŷr Titus (Gwasg y Bwthyn)
The Welsh-language judges were award-winning poet, author, and editor Ceri Wyn Jones; writer and winner of Wales Book of the Year Award 2021 Megan Angharad Hunter; former comedy commissioner, author and producer Sioned Wiliam and Mudiad Meithrin trustee and diversity and inclusion promoter Savanna Jones.
Literature Wales is grateful for the support of the award’s sponsors and partners: Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government, The Rhys Davies Trust, Books Council of Wales, Wales Arts Review, Golwg360 and BBC Cymru Wales.
To find out more about the writers and their books, the award and our partners, visit the Wales Book of the Year page on Literature Wales’ website.