Megan Angharad Hunter’s tu ôl i’r awyr wins the 2021 Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award

Published Wed 4 Aug 2021 - By Literature Wales
Literature Wales has today announced that Megan Angharad Hunter is the winner of the 2021 Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award with her debut novel, tu ôl i’r awyr (Y Lolfa), and that Hazel Walford Davies with her biography O.M.: Cofiant Syr Owen Morgan Edwards (Gwasg Gomer) has won the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award.

The news was announced on BBC Radio Cymru’s Stiwdio programme at 9.00 pm on Wednesday 4 August where presenter Nia Roberts was joined by Golwg’s Editor, Garmon Ceiro; a representative from Literature Wales and the winners themselves.

It was first declared that Megan’s tu ôl i’r awyr had been awarded the Welsh-language Fiction Award on Monday 2 August, before going on to win the overall award and the crowning title of Wales Book of the Year 2021. On the same programme, it was announced that O.M.: Cofiant Syr Owen Morgan Edwards by Hazel Walford Davies (Gwasg Gomer) was the winner of the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award, following an open vote by readers across Wales.

tu ôl i’r awyr is a pioneering début novel by Megan Angharad Hunter. It follows the journey of two teenage characters, Deian and Anest, and their amazing relationship through the angst of their lives. A novel that will move you to tears and make you laugh out loud as you wonder at the author’s skill in delving deep into the minds of two characters who will remain with you for a long time.

Megan Angharad Hunter comes from Dyffryn Nantlle and is currently studying Welsh and Philosophy at Cardiff University. Her work has been published in both Y Stamp and O’r Pedwar Gwynt magazines, and in 2020 she was awarded a Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary. tu ôl i’r awyr is her first novel.

Megan receives a total prize of £4,000 and a specially commissioned trophy, designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones.

O.M: Cofiant Syr Owen Morgan Edwards is the first ever comprehensive biography about the life of O.M. Edwards. From Llanuwchllyn in Gwynedd, O.M. was a politician, scholar, writer and publisher of magazines. He is well-known for publishing periodicals for adults and children, as well as writing books and essays about history, politics, and travel.

Hazel Walford Davies was raised in the Gwendraeth Valley and educated at both Cardiff and Oxford Universities.  She was a Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University and Professor at University of South Wales, and spent periods as Visiting Professor at several Universities in the United States.

Hazel receives a piece of artwork by Alys Shutt from Nelson, Caerphilly, a student at Trinity St David’s’ Swansea College of Art, gifted by Golwg360, sponsors of this year’s Gwobr Barn y Bobl.

The judges of this year’s Welsh-language books are poet and writer Guto Dafydd; writer, presenter, and former Bardd Plant Cymru, Anni Llŷn; writer, academic and lecturer, Tomos Owen; and comedian and writer, Esyllt Sears.

Esyllt Sears, on behalf of the judging panel, said:

“In what has been a difficult and strange year for everyone, in different ways, having something to indulge in – to pull you away from life’s daily chaos – has been invaluable. That was certainly my experience. So, as well as being a huge privilege to be part of the judging panel for the 2021 Book of the Year, being able to escape to other worlds for an hour or two a day for a perfectly valid reason was a real pleasure and I’m very excited to share our favourites with the nation.”


Welsh-language Category Winners

Celebrating books across four categories – poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and children & young People – as well as the Golwg360 Gwobr Barn y Bobl, this week’s broadcasts saw Literature Wales announce a total of six prize-winners.

The winner of the Poetry Award is Marged Tudur with her debut collection Mynd (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). Mynd is a collection of poetry for Dafydd Tudur, Marged’s brother. The volume deals with loss and grief but above all, it is a collection of poems about love.

The winner of the Children & Young People Award is Rebecca Roberts with #helynt (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). #h tells the tale of Rachel Ross, who spends much of her time outside school caring for her mother, who suffers from depression, and her younger sister; but the highlights of her week are the drama group sessions she belongs to. She feels safe there… a different experience to school, where she is bullied because of her disability.

The winner of the Creative Non-Fiction Award is Hazel Walford Davies with O.M.: Cofiant Syr Owen Morgan Edwards (Gwasg Gomer). This is the first ever complete biography about the life of O.M. Edwards. Owen Morgan Edwards, from Llanuwchllyn in Gwynedd, was a politician, scholar, writer and publisher of magazines. He is well-known for publishing periodicals for adults and children, as well as writing books and essays about history, politics, and travel.


The English-language Award

The English-language winners were announced on BBC Radio Wales’ Arts Show, with presenter Nicola Heywood Thomas, on Friday 30 July.

Judging the English-language books this year are poet, writer, and dancer Tishani Doshi; teacher, reviewer and influencer Scott Evans; Paralympian, Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, motivational speaker, and broadcaster, Tanni Grey-Thompson; and academic, writer, activist and former winner of Wales Book of the Year (2003), Charlotte Williams.

Catrin Kean’s Salt (Gwasg Gomer) was awarded the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award and Overall Wales Book of the Year 2021 Award. The winner of the Poetry Award was Fiona Sampson with her collection Come Down (Corsair Poetry). Victoria Owens won the Creative Non-Fiction Award with Lady Charlotte Guest: The Exceptional Life of a Female Industrialist (Pen & Sword). The winner of the Children & Young People Award was Patience Agbabi with The Infinite (Canongate Books).

The Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award was awarded to Catrin Kean, who also captured the imagination of the reading public with Salt (Gwasg Gomer). Catrin receives an ornamental bowl forged by west Wales blacksmith, Alan Perry, with thanks to the People’s Choice Award sponsors, Wales Arts Review.

Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sports, said:

“Wales Book of the Year has become an important annual opportunity to showcase Wales’ writers on a global stage. The wealth of literature on offer amongst this year’s shortlist, especially the winning titles, is outstanding and celebrates the very best that Wales’ literary culture has to offer. I hope that readers in Wales and beyond will continue to enjoy these exceptional works, I and offer my heartfelt congratulations to the winning writers and their publishers.”

Wales Book of the Year has been run by Literature Wales since 2004, during which time some of Wales’ most renowned writers have been celebrated alongside brilliant new talents.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said:

“On behalf of Literature Wales, I wish to congratulate all the winning writers and thank them for providing us with such delight and inspiration during a year where the power of literature has never been more important. I encourage everyone to visit your local bookshop or library and immerse yourself in the worlds of these exceptional titles.”

Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, said:

“Many congratulations to the winners of this year’s Wales Book of the Year award. We’re all aware of the huge impact of the pandemic on the lives of young people and I’m thrilled to see the strong presence of younger writers in the shortlists – and the way young people’s experiences are featured in fiction and in poetry by writers of all ages and career stages. And once again, in fiction and creative non-fiction, we are challenged by new perspectives on the richly volatile 19th century history of Wales. Along with TV box sets, books have kept us going, kept us anchored and kept us alive to new possibilities in a disorientated time. Please go out or go online to buy some of these extraordinary works.”