The Insider

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Byline: PETER FINCH

THE Wales Book of the Year Award gives a big slab of money and a load of glory to the best single book to come from our country in the preceding 12 months.

The judges have quite a task. Not only is Welsh production up by a significant margin (200 new eligible English-language titles this year as against less than half that five years ago) but poetry has to be judged against prose to find the winner.

Can 30 new pieces of verse be better than a novel of 300 pages? How does new short fiction measure against a critical consideration of one of Wales' greats? And what of the historians?

Not so at the Roland Mathias Prize. Here a pot of pounds 2,000 is awarded every other year to the best new English-language book of poetry, criticism, short fiction or Welsh history.

These were the late Roland's areas of expertise. Novels are not considered.

Roland was for decades the ebullient editor of the much-missed Anglo-Welsh Review and a poet and short-story author of considerable distinction in his own right.

He died in 2007 and the prize now continues in his memory.

The Award judging team consists of Roland's son Glyn, poets Sam Adams and Chris Meredith plus fiction writers Moira Dearnley and Catherine Merriman.

Together they read around 75 titles. The two prizes awarded so far have gone to poets. …