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Owain Owain

The Last Day

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Translated from Welsh by Emyr Wallace Humphreys

"Nothing like this book has been seen before, either in our language or in any other. We should rejoice that such brilliance exists in Welsh writing." – Pennar Davies, Welsh literary critic

"Owain Owain’s The Last Day transcends the confines of its form and should captivate a fresh generation of readers with this English translation." – Joshua Rees, Buzz Magazine

The Last Day is more than a moving call to arms for speakers of minority languages facing extinction; at its core, it’s a tragic human-scale story played out between the few figures who could have stopped the madness before it was too late. It is, moreover, a meditation on themes like free will, artificial intelligence and the socio-historical processes that contribute towards the death of a nation. These themes are as relevant now – if not more so – as they were when the novel was written.

With science fiction tropes recalling Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut and more recently Olga Ravn’s The Employees, philosophical reflections in the vein of Dostoyevsky’s Notes From the Underground, and its postmodern form, The Last Day is a testament to the depth and creativity of Welsh literature. Its translation into English is long overdue.

Owain Owain (1929 – 1993) was a writer, physicist and language activist. He founded Tafod Y Ddraig, the Welsh Language Society newspaper which remains a cornerstone of Welsh- language activism, as well as the ubiquitous ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ logo. A prolific and eclectic writer, his biography Mical (1976, Gwasg Gomer) won Literature Wales’s Book of the Year award. His novel Y Dydd Olaf (The Last Day) was the inspiration for musical artist Gwenno Saunders’ 2014 album of the same name. Since then, it has been translated into Polish and Cornish, and was republished in Welsh in 2021 on Gwasg y Bwthyn. (Photograph copyright Eira Owain circa 1963.)

Emyr Wallace Humphreys translates from Welsh and Portuguese to English, and from English to Welsh. A graduate of the MA programme in Translation Studies at University College London, he has had literary translations published in journals such as The White Review, The New Welsh Review and Joyland Magazine. He won a bursary for the 2022 Bristol Translates Literary Translation Summer School and was awarded the 2022-23 Visible Communities Mentorship, part of the National Centre for Writing’s Emerging Translator Mentorship programme. He is a two-time nominee for Deep Vellum’s Best Literary Translations Anthology. He lives in Wales, dividing his time between rural Powys and Aberystwyth.