One woman's experience of anorexia honoured by Welsh Writing Awards

One woman's experience of anorexia honoured by Welsh Writing Awards

An account of a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University and a story about an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn have been honoured by the New Welsh Writing Awards.

New Welsh Review (NWR), in association with Aberystwyth University and AmeriCymru, have announced the winners of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2017: Aberystwyth University Prize for Memoir, and AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella.

Catherine Haines, a dual English-Australian citizen, won the memoir prize, for her account of a young woman’s experience of anorexia while at Oxford University, entitled My Oxford. Meanwhile, Cath Barton, from the English Midlands and now living in Abergavenny, south Wales, won the novella prize for her story The Plankton Collector, a gentle pastiche of an idyllic world populated by archetypes who will help us heal and learn.

Both writers were given cheques for £1,000, as well as an e-publication of their work by the New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint. They will also receive a critique by literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.

The prizes celebrate the best in both memoir and novella from emerging and established writers, and received entries from both new and established writers based in Wales, England and the US.

Prize judge NWR Editor Gwen Davies said: "In our two winning entries in the novella and memoir categories, chosen from nearly all-woman shortlists (putting our political parties to shame), healing, trauma and the fluidity of memory and experience predominate as themes.

"On our memoir shortlist were true accounts of bad luck, eating and Cold War paranoia, all taken to extremes. From it triumphed a rigorous, philosophical case for regarding eating disorder as pilgrimage. On our novella shortlist were dark stories of sexual abuse, grooming and escaping domineering fathers. From it triumphed a beautifully controlled mix of magical realism and nature writing about time, healing, trauma and the fluid, unreliable nature of memory."

All 12 nominees will be published in extract form in upcoming editions of New Welsh Reader and all six shortlisted writers will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.

New Welsh Review also announced the winners of its New Welsh Readers' Poll 2017: Best Memoir & Novella. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Vintage Books) won the Best Memoir category and received 50% of the vote, while Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (Faber) won the Best Novella category with 55% of the vote.