On November 23, High St. Social hosted a Library of Wales event that unveiled its newest edition — 'In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl' by Rachel Trezise. The evening featured a panel that was moderated by our very own Richard Davies who discussed the Rhondda Valley literary tradition with Rhondda writer/broadcaster Carolyn Hitt and Rachel Trezise.
With its original publication in 2000, 'In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl' showed a promising future for Trezise, a 20-year-old author at that time. Success followed shortly thereafter, winning the Orange Futures Prize and boosting the profile of the book and the young voice behind it.
Trezise comes from a lineage of great authors from the Welsh valleys, though one that was primarily male. When first published 'Goldfish Bowl' had gravity not only because it was new, but because it had a strong female point of view. The reputation and representation of the Rhondda Valley was discussed at length. Carolyn Hitt shared her dismay at the way the Rhondda and neighbouring valleys, are often stereotyped negatively or taken for granted in the media. Hitt reflected on how the opposite can be true as well —that it can be valorised without taking account of its flaws.
Part of her fondness for 'In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl' stems from Trezise's courage to expose the darker side of the Rhondda, the side that Rachel said made her feel trapped when she was younger.
Rachel is the second female writer and youngest author to be printed in the Library of Wales, a series that is funded by the Welsh Books Council and published by Parthian.The setting proved to be a cultural hub.
When you walk into High St. Social, you see stacks of books neatly lining the wall to your right, with beautiful paintings from Welsh artists and photographs of the local clientele. Warmth exudes from it, originating in the kitchen. Throughout the evening, they served exquisite and surprising dishes like bread with chicken and lentil, little pancakes with venison, sliders with each burger patty cooked just so.The evening felt like a homecoming, a fireplace refuge from the biting cold of the valley at night.It was the event that Treorchy deserved, one that embraced its beauty while noting its warts. It was a night for stopping in the valley and staying, rather than just passing through.
Here is an excerpt from the live-stream of the event: