What a month it has been! May saw a flurry of reviews, from brand new releases to recent favourites. We are incredibly proud of our authors, so we wanted to shine a spotlight on those whose work we've been excited to see feature...
Windfalls came out in May, and the first review of Susie Wild’s book in Buzz Mag was wonderful. Mab Jones wrote that Windfalls was ‘a very affecting collection of poems indeed,' and we definitely agree!
Western Mail also wrote a brilliant review for the new collection, saying that:
“Her poems are beautiful, even when tackling difficult subjects, and arresting without feeling over-ornamented or inflated. Above all, they shine with authenticity - perhaps because she has a magpie’s appetite for glimpsed moments..."
We were also delighted to see that Poetry Wales' latest issue included two lovely reviews of our poets Kittie Belltree and J. Brookes!
Kittie Belltree received praise for her collection, Sliced Tongue and Pearl Cufflinks:
"Across the entire collection, Kittie Belltree presents not just multiple images of self and the formation of identity, but undertones it with different styles of trauma, silence and the unspoken. It's a remarkably intelligent collection in its structure and style. One moment it can feel overwhelmingly sad, the next you're being pulled back in by the absurdity of it all, the gallows humour."
J. Brookes' collection, Hymns Ancient & Modern: New and Selected Poems also received some wonderful praise:
"Brookes' skill for depicting normal lives allows him to illuminate their universality... And there are many unexpectedly profound moments to be found amongst his service stations, corner launderettes, nursing homes, missed trains and humming boilers. These may be poems set in the everyday, but what Brookes says in them is far from run-of-the-mill."
May has also been a great month for John Sam Jones after the publication of his memoir, The Journey is Home. As author of the month he was interviewed by the Library of Wales about the memoir, which you can read here. He also featured in The Bookseller, starring in the Wales focus issue in a fantastic two-page spread! You can read that profile here.
John also appeared on Radio Cymru to talk about the memoir’s Welsh version, a fantastic interview for Welsh speakers and literature lovers.
Both John Sam Jones and Jeffrey Weeks were featured in a brilliant review of their respective memoirs by Mike Parker in Planet, saying that "these are two valuable additions to growing canon of Welsh queer literature," and we couldn't agree more!
Weeks and Jones also featured in Welsh Agenda, with Hannah Watkin saying some heart-warming words for the memoirs:
"As a younger member of the LGBT+ community I have often worried that my generation romanticises the fight for rights that older generations of LGBT experienced without always appreciating the difficulties these out and proud queer communities faced. Between Worlds and The Journey is Home offer an incredibly important insight into the lives of individuals who had to inhabit the far less hospitable and more openly homophobic world of the recent past."
There was so much to celebrate in fiction this past month - here are some of the highlights...
The Welsh Agenda published a wonderful review of Rachel Trezise's anticipated new novel in their latest print issue. The publication touches on the themes of the book, saying that, "Easy Meat is simultaneously a romantic and confrontingly cynical portrayal of life in the Valleys, the figure of speech itself seemingly representing how people of the Valleys have too often been exploited, taken advantage of and perhaps overlooked by mainstream culture." We were so excited to see such a positive review of the book:
"Ultimately, Easy Meat is a sensitive portrayal of people as people – full, complex and multifaceted – whose every choice is shaped by the conflicting experiences and identities that inform who we are."
You can go to the website to subscribe to the journal and read the full review, as well as support Welsh publishing!
"All Come to Dust is a clever mystery novel, filled with surprise reveals and unexpected events, none more surprising than the final denouement. There is more than a hint in Rheam’s style of Agatha Christie, best known for her detective novels, and said to be the world’s best-selling author of all time."
Angela Readman offered a glowing endorsement of The Hungry and the Lost by Bethany W Pope, which is out in July:
"I haven't felt this way since I read Jane Eyre. Dark, lavish and pulsing with luminous imagery, Pope is a master of Southern Gothic ... Utterly absorbing."
And there was a wonderful review of Death Drives an Audi in Planet Magazine too, with praise for Caroline Waight's translation:
"A memorable book...excellently translated by Caroline Waight... a cross between a road epic and a buddy movie"
Buzz Mag wrote that Death Drives an Audi "is obstinately dark, too, and makes no apologies, its humour pushing stubbornly against the grain of our own existence and leaving you searching for the fun of the everyday."
Ironopolis author Glen James Brown wrote in Wales Arts Review that Death Drives an Audi "is a wonderful new addition to the genre" of road trips in literature.
"Wells’ responses to the sudden and unexpected challenge – complex and conflicting – are above all honest and human, and the pair’s ultimate achievement of an improved relationship founded on mutual affection, respect and understanding is a quiet triumph."
"It is a book like this, and not any scientific journal, that will really show future generations how it was to live during the Coronavirus pandemic"
And finally, the reissue of The Cormorant has also received praise from Wales Arts Review and Oddly Weird Fiction for the brilliance of the Gothic novel, with the former writing that "The Cormorant certainly nests itself among gothic heavyweights."
That's it for now! The good news is that as our newest publications go out to shops and shelves this June, reviews and praise continue to come in, and we can't wait to celebrate some more next time. Until then, congrats to all our talented authors. And readers - get reading!