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His Last Fire by Alix Nathan

Described by Hilary Mantel as “the best kind of historical fiction,” Alix Nathan’s “confident, learned and engaging” debut collection, His Last Fire, was recently reviewed by Emma Whitney at New Welsh Review.

Set during the close of the 18th century, it is Nathan’s characters that captured Whitney’s attention; she describes them as “true humans with feelings and doubts” who are both “vivid” and “engaging.” Starring a cast of arsonists, actors and ambassadors, it should come as no surprise that His Last Fire has a “refreshing immediacy all too often lacking in historical works.”

Whitney encourages readers to “nestle in [the] stories for their own sake,” and ends her review with the assertion that readers who do just that “will not be disappointed.”

Surely this praise can only mean excellent things for Nathan, whose debut historical fiction novel, The Flight of Sarah Battle, will be released with Parthian in 2015.


Been a bit disappointed by the rather international feel of shortlists recently? The Guardian’s Not the Booker prize longlist has been announced and includes SEVEN (count ‘em!) Welsh titles. We’re so excited to see this, and we need your help to get a Welsh title on to the shortlist. Only six books can go through in to the next round…

Vote (in the comments list) here, by Sunday 3rd August, by nominating the two titles, by two different publishers, that you would like to see represented in the shortlist, with a brief review stating why. Drop whatever you’re doing (unless you need to have a glance through our handy guide to the Welsh contenders below), pop over to The Guardian website and earn the warm glow of our never-ending gratitude. (You know you want it...)


So muses Dan Tyte, author of Half Plus Seven, on the news that it’s been selected for the Kindle summer sale.

The season of hopefully purchased beach/garden/park/pub garden/rowing boat/in flight reads is officially here when Kindle launch their discounted summer list.

You’ll spot some familiar titles. In addition to Dan Tyte’s tricksy tramp through the murky world of Public Relations, as Bill McDare attempts to rebrand his own disappointing gen-Y life and re-infuse it with love and meaning, there’s Kit Habianic’s Until Our Blood is Dry, where trouble is brewing... It’s time to defend jobs, the pits and a way of life that has formed both the life of valley and the nation. And as the strike begins to drive the Pritchard family apart, it’s time for Gwyn, Scrapper and Helen to pick their sides… Shortlisted for the Daily Mail First Novel Competition, Kit’s debut centres on the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike and is currently serialised in the Western Mail to mark the strike’s anniversary.

Amongst the enticing listings, you’ll also see recent Wales Book of the Year winning fiction in the shape of The Rice Paper Diaries by Francesca Rhydderch and Rhian Elizabeth’s excellent debut novel Six Pounds Eight Ounces. I’m personally flirting with The Nudists by Guy Bellamy, and Saki’s Improper Stories.

Well, it would be rude not to, and assorted retail clichés. Which other lives will you visit this summer?

Keslowena to Katherine Stansfield, winner of Best Adult Fiction at the 2014 Holyer an Gof awards. Her debut The Visitor, a historical novel shivering and flashing with visions as elusive as the fish at the centre of its story, was announced as the winner on July 15th, at the awards evening in Truro Waterstones.

The Visitor is a novel steeped in the coast and people of Cornwall, set in a village inspired by St Ives, and follows the waning fortunes of the pilchard fishing industry. The novel slips between 1880 and 1936, as Pearl, exiled from her home in favour of holiday makers, turns to the memory of her great love, and loss, Nicholas. But will he return?

The annual awards, for books with a Cornish connection, is funded by the Gorsedh Council and were instigated in 1996 to raise the standard and profile of publishing in Cornwall.


After months of deliberation, the results of The Wales Book of the Year 2014 were announced at the award ceremony which took place on the 10th July in Galeri Caernarfon, in North Wales.  
The judging panel this year included journalist Jasper Rees, Swansea comic Nadia Kamil, and lecturer Andrew Webb.
Two authors who have previously been published by Parthian walked away with the individual catagory prize of a stainless steel trophy designed by installation artist Angharad Pearce Jones and £2,000. Meic Stephens won the Creative Non-fiction category for A Writer's Life - the first full biography of Rhys Davies, one of Wales’ most prolific writers - while Tyler Keevil, who has had two books issued by Parthian - Fireball (2010) and Burrard Inlet (2014) - won the People’s Choice Award for his novel The Drive (2013, published by Myriad Editions), a tale about a wannabe filmmaker’s surreal road trip to California in the company of a fractious flea-ridden cat. Jemma L. King's Dylan Thomas Prize-shortlisted collection The Shape of a Forest (2013) was also nomiated for the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry.
Elsewhere, congratulations must be offered to Owen Sheers, who won the English-Language Wales Book of the Year 2014, as well as the Roland Mathias Poetry Award for his verse-drama book Pink Mist, published by Faber & Faber in 2013.