Mandy Sutter has won the top prize at the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016 for her re-telling of her mother’s story of growing up in mid-1960s Nigeria.
Sutter was presented with a cheque for £1,000 at a ceremony held at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff on Thursday (7th July).
Her winning entry, "Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me", will be published by New Welsh Review on its New Welsh Rarebyte imprint this autumn. It will also receive a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME.
The prize celebrates the best short form travel writing from emerging and established writers based in the UK and Ireland, and was judged by editor of New Welsh Review Gwen Davies and travel writer Rory MacLean.
Davies said: "Travel writing creates bridges of understanding across physical and imaginative borders, between our own and 'other' cultures as well as between the past and the present. Mandy Sutter's Nigeria rises like a mirage from her story as a child there in the mid 1960s; her use of fiction techniques such as empathy and multiple viewpoints, especially her mother's adult experience as an ex-pat negotiating her own family's conforming views of race and class, create a complete arc of innovative concision."
MacLean said: "Mandy Sutter's 'Bush Meat' triumphs, in its lean prose and true dialogue, in its disarming humour, in its evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria. In her story, Mandy stitches together the threads of memory to create a moving tapestry of lost life, building bridges of understanding across time and place, enhancing literature's ever-changing, ever-supple genre."
Sutter grew up in Kent but now lives in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, with her partner and dog. Her first novel Stretching It (Indigo Dreams) was published in 2013. She has also published three poetry pamphlets with independent presses.
The second prize was awarded to Cardiff University PhD student Nathan Llewelyn Munday for his piece "Seven Days, A Pyrenean Trek" which used European creation myths to map the highs and lows of the grand narrative. A "deceptively simple hike with his father becomes a timeless, scholarly, rich, human, engaging and heartfelt Odyssey. Munday wins a week-long residential course of his choice at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales.
Third prize went to travel writer John Harrison for "The Rains of Titikaka". His piece tracked the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, the highest city in the ancient world and the hub of a trading empire stretching from Chile to Peru. Harrison wins a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales.
All three entries will be published in extract form in the autumn edition of New Welsh Reader (112) on 1st September and all three winners will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.
New Welsh Review also announced the winner of their Best Travel Book Poll at the event, Losing Israel by Jasmine Donahaye (Seren), a "moving and honest" account of the author’s relationship with Israel, which spans travel writing, nature writing and memoir. Voted for by the public, Losing Israel was the "overwhelming" winner from a shortlist of three titles that comprised Wildwood: A Journey through Trees by Roger Deakin (Penguin) and A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (John Murray). Losing Israel has also been shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2016.