LONGLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE 2024
'Jones is a writer who can inhabit the voice of any person of any age from any background, it seems, and the characters are well-rounded and believable; in fact, we’re immersed into their worlds, their viewpoints, with consummate ease... Place looms large, directing and affecting, constricting and curtailing, and is, perhaps, the true master in these deft, defiant stories that are also truly thoughtful, entirely original, and wonderfully compelling' – Mab Jones, Buzz Magazine
'Flashes of Dylan Thomas glint in the Old Garbo-esque ‘Half Moon, New Year,’ a snapshot of Llanelli night-life on a cold 31st of December; residents of varying ages cheering as fireworks go off on the telly, and forget the words to Auld Lang Syne... Jones’ writing is at its best when he gets a chance to deep-dive into his characters.' – Rachel Trezise, Nation.Cymru
‘Brilliant. A broken-voiced homage to the towns we do our best to survive. Every single story burns.’ – Ben Pester, author of Am I in the Right Place?
‘These quietly assured and beautifully crafted vignettes of Llanelli show a writer with a very fine eye for the textures and atmospheres of place, and a wonderful ear for its voices. These stories capture the bruised yearning of their characters with a bittersweet and understated lyricism.’ – Tristan Hughes, Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award-winning author of Hummingbird
‘Joshua Jones has written a set of extraordinary short stories so compelling I just couldn’t put them down once begun and can’t imagine his home of Llanelli existing without them. Local Fires is a collection of alternative, overlooked views from what feels like a spongiform margin. Often set out as monologues or thoughtforms, and often daring in their execution, these stories are empathic, odd and utterly convincing, even if a strange magic whispers from just around the corner. Jones has a clear talent in his grasp; some of these stories punch holes in the sky.’ – Richard Foster, author of Flower Factory
‘Local Fires is a phenomenal debut collection. These sharply drawn stories coalesce into a lyrical, poignant and darkly comic portrait of life in a small, working-class Welsh town.’ – Claire Carroll, author of The Unreliable Nature Writer
'These interconnected tales, with characters roaming through several of them, are über modernist, culturally sophisticated and yet daringly down to earth. The characters encounter despair, loss, aggression, hope and hilarity as they trudge through their bewildering lives. The fractious honesty of these short stories will live in you like a cerebral haunting long after their truths have unravelled.' – Topher Mills, author of Sex on Toast (Goodreads Review)
'Joshua Jones’s Local Fires had a hold over me that is rooted in memory, with its vignettes of small-town life, damp at the edges with lager, stupidity and all- consuming romance.' – Ben Pester for Granta, Best Books of 2023 article.
'Jones’ skill is in threading a poignancy, a searching narrative of hope and community, in amongst bittersweet comedic elements and visceral, bloody anger. This debut is still fizzing, still volatile – between its covers it sustains that feeling of not having settled yet – a promising step toward whatever is next.' – Anthony Shapland for Nation Cymru, top picks of 2023.
'[Local Fires] weaves together the various adventures, misadventures, thoughts, feelings, actions, observations of the many characters in small town Llanelli. A beautiful portrait of a characterful town.’ – Wales Arts Review, Best Fiction of 2023.
‘Jones depicts the complex vulnerability and brutality of small-town life, with a particular focus on the xperiences of young men, in stories which contain pathos and humour in equal measure.’ – Gary Grace for Lunate, Books of the Year 2023.
'Jones introduces the reader to a wide cast of characters (e.g. a talent show hopeful, a recovering alcoholic, a teenager newly diagnosed as Autistic, a woman on the day of her fourth marriage) to reveal the human struggle and how most just about manage to deal with life’s aftermaths, bitter disappointments and losses.' – Jane Fraser, author of Connective Tissue and The south Westerlies, for The Lonely Crowd’s Best Books of 2023.
'Jones is a young and exciting contemporary writer who writes from experience, setting his stories in Llanelli, his hometown. What emerges throughout the collection is a picture of small-town life that is vivid and relatable to anyone who grew up in similar-sized locations... Local Fires is an important, exciting, and contemporary read. It is camp and it is fun, with references to queer joy, drag culture, Ru Paul, Kim Woodburn and the escapism offered by pop culture sitting alongside the realities of life in small-town Wales. Jones presents both the grit and the pearl of modern queer life and reinforces Parthian as a publisher to follow for modern and diverse Welsh voices.' – Liam Nolan, Gwales customer review (A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Books Council of Wales.)
'In this collection of interconnected short stories, Jones’s treatment of his hometown is by turns sensitive, evocative and ultimately mournful for a place, and a moment, which is fragile enough to vanish forever. In that sense, its resonance carries far beyond the borders of Llanelli, into those quiet parts of ourselves which know that what once was – our people and our places – can never be again.' – Joe Bedford, author of A Bad Decade for Good People, for Everybody's Reviewing Favourite Reads of 2023
'Local Fires offers a considered portrait of the town's inhabitants' intimate turmoils. Their politics are never named, yet they seep through the layers of their lives – this is a politics at the micro level of the domestic and the everyday, in the pub, the high street shop or the cafe. Marked by empathy and nostalgia, the collection occasionally feels like a poetic comparison piece to A Nation of Shopkeepers by Dan Evans.' – Marine Furet for The Welsh Agenda, Issue 71
'Local Fires ... is that rare thing - a sharply-written collection of stories which holds the attention throughout. Clear some space on your bookshelves, there’s a new voice in Welsh writing and it deserves to be listened to.' – Emma Schofield, Wales Arts Review
Chloe enters the local talent show, seeking fame, fortune and a ticket out of town. Meanwhile, her mother, Angie, wakes up hungover on the morning of her fourth wedding day. William ponders his impending autism diagnosis through the lenses of Descartes and Hollywood heartthrob Clive Owen. Jimmy, the hot-headed proprietor of a firework shop, rages at the emergence of a rival store, as his ex-wife considers the existential ramifications of her uncanny resemblance to TV cleaning personality Kim Woodburn.
Local Fires sees debut writer Joshua Jones turn his acute focus to his birthplace of Llanelli, South Wales. Sardonic and melancholic, joyful and grieving, these multifaceted stories may be set in a small town, but they have reach far beyond their locality. From the inertia of living in an ex-industrial working-class area, to gender, sexuality, toxic masculinity and neurodivergence, Jones has crafted a collection versatile in theme and observation, as the misadventures of the town’s inhabitants threaten to spill over into an incendiary finale.
In this stunning series of interconnected tales, fires both literal and metaphorical, local and all-encompassing, blaze together to herald the emergence of a singular new Welsh literary voice.
Joshua Jones (he/him) is a queer, autistic writer and artist from Llanelli, South Wales. He co-founded Dyddiau Du, a NeuroQueer art and literature space in Cardiff. His fiction and poetry have been published by Poetry Wales, Broken Sleep Books, Gutter and others. He is a Literature Wales Emerging Writer for 2023, and is currently working with the British Council to connect Welsh and Vietnamese queer writers. Local Fires is his first publication of fiction.
Twitter: @nothumanhead / Insta: @joshuajoneswrites