Wales Book of the Year awards under review

Wales Book of the Year awards under review

Literature Wales is currently reviewing the Wales Book of the Year awards, with a statement on its future expected before the end of the week, the BBC has reported.

The awards are given annually to works of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in Welsh and English. Literature Wales is responsible for managing the awards, on behalf of the Welsh Arts Council. 

According to the BBC, the body is currently reviewing the awards, as well as "a number of other aspects" of its work.

Jon Gower, winner of the award in 2012 and a judge of the English language award in 2011, said: "It would be a great shame if the awards were brought to an end since opportunities for Welsh language books are limited. Unfortunately the status and financial value of the award has decreased substantially over the last few years. I feel that what Literature Wales should be doing is being more creative when it comes to marketing books that come to the fore, and doing more to highlight the awards and those on the shortlist."

Gower added that he understood the awards were a part of Literature Wales' business plan until 2019.

Another former judge of the competition, editor and literary critic Bethan Mair, added: "I believe the award gives status and helps increase sales of Welsh language books. It also increases visibility - for example on S4C's 'Nos Galan' programme a week and a half ago they looked at Caryl Lewis' work. Winning the Book of the Year award gave her that prominence. 

"There is value to the award but perhaps it's time to consider asking companies to sponsor it - this already happens with companies like Costa and Whitbread for awards in England. The Welsh Books Council could also take responsibility for the award - they are already responsible for the Tir na n-Og award, and do so successfully."

The English-language winner of Wales Book of the Year 2016 was We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris (Faber) and the Welsh-language winner was Caryl Lewis for her novel Y Bwthyn (Y Lolfa).