Ailbhe Darcy wins the 2019 Wales Book of the Year Award



At Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 20 June, Literature Wales announced that Cardiff-based poet Ailbhe Darcy is the winner of the Wales Book of the Year Award 2019 with her striking collection, Insistence (Bloodaxe Books).

Ailbhe Darcy first took to the stage to collect the Roland Mathias Poetry Award, before returning to be crowned winner of the overall title Wales Book of the Year 2019 and receiving a total prize of £4,000 and a specially commissioned trophy, designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones.

The winning title of the overall Welsh-language Award as well as the Aberystwyth University Fiction Award and the Golwg360 Welsh-language People’s Choice prize is Llyfr Glas Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros. The dystopian novel, published by Y Lolfa, won the Prose Medal at the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 2018, and was shortlisted for the Tír na nÓg 2019 prize.

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Please see a full list of category winners below:


Overall Wales Book of the Year Award and the Roland Mathias Poetry Award

Insistence, Ailbhe Darcy (Bloodaxe Books)

A beguiling, sometimes baffling, yet unique slant on the world.’  

– Ben Wilkinson, Stride


A new child should mean new hope. But what if that’s no longer so? Ailbhe Darcy’s second collection unfolds in an intimate world, in which the words home and love dominate. But the private world is threatened by a public one. Written in the American Rust Belt, in an era of climate change and upheaval, Insistence takes stock of the parent’s responsibility to her child, the poet’s responsibility to the reader, and the vulnerability of the person in the face of global crisis.


AILBHE DARCY was born in Dublin and brought up there. She studied for her PhD and MFA at the University of Notre Dame in the US, and taught there and at Westfälische Wilhelms- Universität Münster in Germany. She is now a lecturer in creative writing at Cardiff University.

Imaginary Menagerie (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), her first book-length collection, was shortlisted for Ireland’s dlr Strong Award at Poetry Now / Mountains to Sea. A collaboration with S.J. Fowler, Subcritical Texts, was published by Gorse in 2017. Her second collection, Insistence, is out from Bloodaxe in May 2018.

Aberystwyth University Fiction Award

West, Carys Davies (Granta Publications)

‘All the stark power and immediacy of a folk tale or a legend…a writer of immense talent.’ – Colm Toibin

When Cy Bellman, American settler and widowed father of Bess, reads in the newspaper that huge ancient bones have been discovered in a Kentucky swamp, he leaves his small Pennsylvania farm and young daughter to find out if the rumours are true: that the giant monsters are still alive, and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River.

West is the story of Bellman’s journey and of Bess, waiting at home for her father to return. Written with compassionate tenderness and magical thinking, it explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home, from an exceptionally talented and original British writer. It is a radiant and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie, electric monument to possibility.


CARYS DAVIES’S short stories have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. They have won the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s V S Pritchett Prize, and a Northern Writers’ Award, and her second collection, The Redemption of Galen Pike, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award 2015

Creative Non-Fiction Award

Moneyland, Oliver Bullough (Profile Books)

Every politician and moneyman on the planet should read it, but they won’t because it’s actually about them.’ – John le Carre



2019: democracy is eating itself, inequality is skyrocketing, the system is breaking apart. Why?


Because in 1962, some bankers in London had an idea that changed the world. That idea was called ‘offshore’. It meant that, for the first time, thieves could dream big. They could take everything.


Join investigative journalist Oliver Bullough on a journey into the hidden world of the new global kleptocrats. See the poor countries where public money is stolen and the rich ones where it is laundered and invested. Watch the crooks at work and at play, and meet their respectable, white-collar enablers. Learn how the new system works and begin to see how we can tackle it.


OLIVER BULLOUGH is the author of two non-fiction books about Russian history and politics: The Last Man in Russia (Allen Lane, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Dolman Prize, and Let Our Fame Be Great (Allen Lane, 2010), which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in the UK and won the Cornelius Ryan in the US. His journalism appears regularly in the Guardian, the New York Times and GQ.

Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Prize

Gen, Jonathan Edwards (Seren)

These are poems for the places and times where we live. They sing in the language of now…We can all learn as we rejoice in this collection.’ – Gillian Clarke


Gen is a book of lions and rock stars, street parties and servants, postmen and voices. In the opening sequence’s exploration of youth and young manhood, the author sets his own Valleys upbringing against the ’50s youth of his parents and the experience of a range of pop culture icons, including Kurt Cobain and Harry Houdini. Other poems explore Welsh history and prehistory, and the collection concludes with a selection of sometimes witty, sometimes heartfelt love poems. With his characteristic humour, warmth, formal range and swaggering music, the author delivers a wonderful follow-up to his popular and critically-lauded debut.


JONATHAN EDWARDS’S first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes, received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. He has read his poems on BBC radio and television, recorded them for the Poetry Archive, and led workshops in schools, universities and prisons. He lives in Crosskeys, South Wales, and works as a teacher.

Welsh-language Overall Winner and the Aberystwyth University Fiction Award and the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award

Llyfr Glas Nebo, Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)

“This novel grabbed my attention from the first sentence” – Manon Rhys


In this novel, we’re introduced to Siôn – a young boy forced to grow up too quickly, his mother, Rowenna, and his younger sister, Dwynwen. Their remarkable tale is recorded in a blue notebook as they fight for survival following Y Terfyn – a destruction which had a lasting effect on the people of Nebo and beyond. Llyfr Glas Nebo won the Prose Medal at the 2018 National Eisteddfod.


MANON STEFFAN ROS is a full-time writer and playwright. She’s written over 20 books and has won the Tir na n-Og Award four times (Trwy’r Tonnau in 2010; Prism in 2012, Pluen in 2017 and Fi a Joe Allen in 2018). Originally from Rhiwlas, Dyffryn Ogwen, she now lives in Tywyn.

Welsh-language Poetry Award

Cyrraedd a Cherddi Eraill, Alan Llwyd (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas)

“a poet striving to keep his fiery vision alight against the world’s contradictions” – Dafydd John Pritchard, extracted from a review on, used with permission from the Welsh Books Council.



Cyrraedd a Cherddi Eraill features poems written between 2016 and 2018, split into two sections. In the first section, the reader will find over 70 poems to mark the poet’s recent 70th birthday. These poems are mostly personal and biographical to some extent; poems of celebration and grief, joy and sadness as he looks back on his life. Here we have a variety of different measures, with the cynghanedd playing a vital part in shaping the forms and adding precision to the expressions. From start to finish, the sea features as a regular presence, either as a natural part of a poem’s geography or as a symbol or an image. The second sections features sporadic poems, of both a personal and societal nature.


ALAN LLWYD is a notable poet and writer. He’s widely published with various volumes of poetry to his name, as well as anthologies, critical writing, volumes on Wales’ historical and cultural heritage as well as specialist texts on the cynghanedd. He won the Chair and the Crown at the 1973 National Eisteddfod, and again at the 1976 National Eisteddfod. Alan worked as an administrative officer for Barddas, and as the magazine’s editor from 1981 until 2011. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate in Literature from the University of Wales and in 2013 he was appointed as a Professor at Academi Hywel Teifi, Arts and Humanities College, Swansea University.

Welsh-language Creative Non Fiction Award

Cymru mewn 100 Gwrthrych, Andrew Green (Gwasg Gomer)

“this is an especially beautiful book full of Wales’ rich history.” – Gerald Morgan, extracted from a review on, used with permission from the Welsh Books Council.


Wales in 100 Objects is a collection of miniature histories, each arising from a single physical object. The objects range in date from the early prehistoric period to the present. Inside you’ll find, among other things, a Roman sword from the first century BCE, the earliest manuscript of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and a Raspberry Pi, the revolutionary computer designed to help children learn computer coding. Opposite stunning photographs by Rolant Dafis, Andrew Green’s informative texts explain and explore each item. The objects are drawn from every part of Wales, and all are available to the public.


ANDREW GREEN was born in 1952 in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and raised in South Yorkshire. He attended the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield and studied the Classics at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge before moving to Wales to train as an academic librarian in 1973. He’s since worked at university libraries in Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Sheffield and more recently Swansea where he worked as the director of libraries and information services.

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