Dylan and Dahl Camps in a Prize Fight over Books; Roald's Daughter Criticises Top Thomas Award

Article excerpt

Byline: James McCarthy

THEY are two of Wales' greatest literary figures.

Roald Dahl's children's books continue to be adored the world over, while Dylan Thomas is internationally recognised as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

But now a row has broken out between the two camps - after Dahl's daughter criticised a major award named after Thomas.

The Dylan Thomas Prize - the world's richest literary award - was launched in Boston, Massachusetts, this week, on St David's Day.

Dahl's daughter Tessa - mother of supermodel Sophie - was there promoting her new novel when she spoke out about the honour which can see poetry, short stories, novels, novellas, stage plays and screenplays going head-to-head against one another.

The 52-year-old, herself an award-winning children's writer, said it was impossible to judge the various styles of writing eligible for the award against each other.

"Whatever your metier is, you'll think yours is the best. A poet of course will think poetry ought to win, and a novelist will think their form is best."

In response, Peter Stead, chairman of the Dylan Thomas Prize, said the accolade reflected Thomas' own creative diversity.

"The prize was given this unique format as a reflection of Dylan Thomas' own writing - for he was a poet, prose writer and playwright.

"Just as with the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer, our judges seek excellence.

"The judges, each of whom have their own individual area of expertise, are charged with the task of establishing true excellence.

"It is our view and our experience that any literary critic worth his or her salt can identify excellence whatever the genre.

"It would be a poor critic indeed who stood out for their own form of writing in the face of true quality in another genre."

In the past judges have included poet Owen Sheers and screenwriter Andrew Davies.

Cardiff University's Dr Katie Gramich, who sat on the judging panel for the Wales' Book of the Year in 2007, agreed with Ms Dahl and warned the Dylan Thomas Prize judges had a tricky task. …