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Author of the Month: Dai Smith (Mar 2017)

Author of the Month, Authors, Dai Smith, Literature Wales, Mar 2017, Parthian Books -

Author of the Month: Dai Smith (Mar 2017)

Dai Smith, born in Rhondda in 1945, is a Welsh writer and historian who was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to culture and the arts in Wales. He has been a professor in History at Lancaster University, Cardiff University and Swansea University from 1969 until 1993, being awarded with a personal chair by the University of Wales in 1986. 

'Frequently poetic, often amusing and always compelling' – Peter Stead 

'Smith's writing hovers on the last edge of prose, and like poetry demands to be read out loud' – Wales Arts Review



'Serious and seriously entertaining' – Jon Gower

 

 



In 1993 he took up a position as editor for the BBC, working on Radio Wales and later on in 1994 became the Head of Broadcast (English Language) at BBC Wales, for which he commissioned various award-winning programmes, especially in the Arts and Drama until 2000. He became the Raymond Williams chairman in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University in 2005 and in 2007 he was appointed Arts Council of Wales chairman.

Series Editor of our Library of Wales series of classic works written in English from or about Wales, Smith is also chair of the judging panel for the International Dylan Thomas Prize.

Smith’s most recent novel What I Know I Cannot Say / All That Lies Beneath has recently been published and combines a novella with a selection of short stories, merging two different types of storytelling in order to convey the twentieth-century tale set in the South Wales Valleys.

Smith’s most recent novel What I Know I Cannot Say / All That Lies Beneath has recently been published and combines a novella with a selection of short stories, merging two different types of storytelling in order to convey the twentieth-century tale set in the South Wales Valleys.



What I Know I Cannot Say picks up the story where his novel Dream On (2013) left off, following the life story of Billy’s father, Dai Maddox. When Billy’s former partner Bran shows up wanting to record Dai’s life story to put together a documentary, Dai looks back on his past, remembering his childhood as a destitute orphan, his work as a collier in the mines and the subsequent drifting between menial jobs, alleviated only by reading and drawing; his enrolment in the British Army and participation in the invasion of Italy during the Second World War; and post-war life under socialism, when he was back in the pits and married to Billy’s mother, Mona.



 

 

 

 Praise for Dream On:

A broad, ambitious work… with the acerbic wit and grime of the noir thriller.' – New Welsh Review

'Smith's counterclaim… suggesting an alternative culture with which to side-step English cultural absorption.' – Planet

'The great South Wales novel?' – Agenda

'A superb and highly readable first novel.' – Ceri Shaw

'A great book… (it)cleverly looks at this duality of self through the eyes of vividly crafted characters in vastly different scenarios from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This is a book that deserves to be read by all.' – Gwales.com

'The sense of South Wales that jumps off the pages of Dream On is a very real one indeed… a dazzling debut and the piece of literature that Wales… has been waiting for, for a long time.' – Daryl Leeworthy

'If there's a braver book in terms of its construction published this year in Wales I'll eat my grandfather's pit helmet….' – Jon Gower

'…through the combination of tongue-in-cheek romp and serious reflection Dream On succeeds in its aims of celebrating the continuing vitality and potential of the Valleys' communities.' – Jane Aaron

'In probing the meaning of Welsh lives in the Twentieth century Dai Smith's fine novel Dream On offers sophisticated meditations on history and community, the past and the present…Indeed it …seems hard to say anything about twentieth century South Wales that the novel doesn't say better…' – Daniel Williams

All That Lies
Beneath is a white-knuckle fiction ride: power, sex, money, and ambition all twist through the pages as Smith creates a feast of intellectual and physical provocation in stories that send a shudder of fearful recognition directly through to the reader.

Amongst his other publications are path-breaking histories of the south Wales miners, The Fed (1980), with Dr. Hywel Francis MP, and of the social significance of rugby in Wales, Fields of Praise (1986), with Professor Gareth Williams. He has written widely on literature and society – Aneurin Bevan and The World of South Wales (1993) and Wales: A Question for History (1988) – books in which artificial discipline boundaries are deliberately broken down.

Dai Smith lives on Barry Island, where he is writing more fiction.

To open Welsh Art Week London 2017, Professor Dai Smith CBE will talk about his new work of fiction. Monday 27 Feb,  6–8pm, Woolff Gallery, 89 Charlotte Street, W1

In the Press:

Wales Arts Review 2015 interview

Also by Dai Smith: