We realise that we hadn’t released a review round-up for a while, so we thought we'd do a quick overview of the last couple of months!
As it gets a bit colder and the darkness settles in, we find ourselves wrapping up in our thermals, scarves, and our favourite bobble hats, book in hand and nestled in our favourite chairs, hopefully near a window with a view...
Mab Jones’ offers her thoughts on a plethora of poetry: https://www.buzzmag.co.uk/new-poetry-polly-atkin-patrick-jones-topher-mills-october-feature/
Sex on Toast by Topher Mills
"Evocative, engaging, and entertaining, this is a true gem of a book."
Fuse/Fracture by Patrick Jones
"This collection shifts from elegies that rage and rampage through a range of emotive states, to heartfelt messages surrounding loneliness and engage a wide audience of readers through his inordinate skill and observation."
"And, icons being icons, we have to love them because they are never a stereotype..."
Working Out by David Hughes
"As the cover reveals, the machinations of this writer makes complex connections between the muscles of a poet and of physical exercise, which is a means to understand the world around them as they mark their path as a scathing and sardonic scribe."
"David Hughes is not just a poet for Welsh readers, his themes are universal, he honours the dead."
Max Boyce: Hymns and Arias
The narrative welds story and song as it delves into the history of his industrial family background, exploring his hardworking nature that sprung from coal-mining roots. "Boyce has a gift for an easy rhyme, very much on display in this book..." This ease is apparent even as a casual observer.
With a number of reviews to choose from regarding this wordsmith extraordinaire, Nation.Cymru engages with the book in a way that is original and marvellously rich. We are linked to the land we call home, and Max Boyce weaves stories with an added thread of humour deftly and without falter.
"One thing that shines through the book is Max Boyce’s ebullient personality and genuine warmth."
Smooth Operator by Geoff Andrews
Geoff Williams' Smooth Operator reads not only as a memoir but as a historical,. and political bulletin for the communities that supported Cyril Lakin's career but also a report of the corrupt ability for money to be the only means of success. The evaluation of the social system is seen through a prism of doubt and analyses the familial need to be supported and trusted.
Raymond Williams: From Wales to the World
These essays acknowledge Raymond Williams' dual identity as a ''Welsh European'' which ''locate Wales as pivotal to Williams' output'' as firstly Nation Cymru explores an understanding of this heritage, harnessing his background and as https://www.walesartsreview.org/from-wales-to-the-world-raymond-williams-centenary/ by means of similarly ''analysing the form to ''[speak] to us as a continuity of hope at these times of crisis.''
Cardiff Cut by Lloyd Robson, with a foreword by Peter Finch
';Cardiff Cut is actually a prose poem, or a set of prose poems, blended to form a novel-length whole'. Although obscene, I'm sure the overvocal critic can agree that people do f****** speak like this now. ''Robson makes full use of the rhythms of everyday speech'' much like William Carlos Williams and similarly their use of little to no capital letters made famous by e.e,cummings are seen here.
The Hungry and the Lost by Bethany W. Pope
"This is such a complex, absorbing, beautifully written novel. Do read it." - Jeni Williams, Horla
"The Hungry and the Lost stands on its own not only within its genre but simply as a work of fiction ... It has a mesmerising mythic quality, unburdened with the sometimes tiresome desire for gritty reality which so many novels fall prey to." - Zoe Kramer, Wales Arts Review
The Welsh Way, edited by Daniel Evans, Kieron Smith & Huw Williams with a foreword by Michael Sheen
With a scathing understanding of politics, the economy, and finding a new ideological system/approach through logical debate and structured agendas, this collection expresses a shifting of agency amongst a nation undercut by a global pandemic and multivalent government policy.
Take a Bite: The Rhys Davies Short Story Award Anthology edited by Elaine Canning and guest judged by Julia Bell
With previous winners including writers such as Leonora Brito, Tristan Hughes and Kate Hamer.
The contributors for this collection are Susmita Bhattacharya, Brennig Davies, Giancarlo Gemin, Craig Hawes, Chloë Heuch, Phillipa Holloway, Joshua Jones, Jupiter Jones,Kate Lockwood Jefford, Rosie Manning, Naomi Paulus, Elizabeth Pratt.
Jon Gower dissects the collection in a coherent and meaningful way when he postulates how each story relates to another: "The man himself would surely enjoy seeing how often the writers in this collection – all winners of the competition named after him – do precisely this, diving straight into the heart of the matter".
With each story clearly formulated and carefully understanding their style and form they are "equipped with just the right tools, being a prose writer’s paring-knife and a flashbulb for all those vivid flashbulb moments."
A snapshot of time.
Fear of Barbarians by Petar Andonovski
A stark and chilling narrative surrounding lost and desolate souls, once part of a wider society. Hit by the catastrophe of Chernobyl and now looking for purpose, the use of the triple goddess archetype is spellbinding. It explores a deep concern for humankind that may resonate further in our psyches after the last two years of pandemic, to be alone.
The Equestrienne by Uršuľa Kovalyk
Moving and deceptively modern, The Equestrienne can be viewed as an ode to freedom, and the complications that can occur when we strive for it.
Kiss and Tell by John Sam Jones
And last, and by no means least, Kiss and Tell traverses the bildungsroman of young men understanding what it means to be themselves. A refreshing take on the short story form, Nation.Cymru's review is pointing our attention to the unheard truths of Welsh LGBTQ+ environments that are only now being given safe and positive spaces to speak. Secrets as the review postulates are held in special regard: 'Language and landscape run through this collection like an interwoven thread. Language – English, Cymraeg, and even Castellano – can be a means to keep secrets.'' As the review continues, we enquire as to its further connections to the world as we see it now: ''In that sense, these stories are unavoidably of their time, but read with all this hindsight what struck me is how fresh they feel.''
Adieu, for this month! The good news is that as our newest publications go out to shops and shelves before Santa comes down the chimney with December’s additions, reviews and praise continue to come in, and we can't wait to share some more with you in the new year. We want to celebrate the voices of all our talented authors. Thank you for all your support and we can’t wait to share some more with you. Hwyl Fawr!