Tender Verse or Dark Tales of Crime - Which Best Shows Life in Wales Today?

Article excerpt

Byline: Jill Tunstall

FORGET the Booker Prize, the hot vote of the moment is for the book that best represents the life and society of Wales today, at the beginning of the 21st Century.

As part of the annual World Book Day celebrations, 25 books each from Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland have been selected by a dedicated band of librarians, publishers and booksellers in each country.

Among them are Sugar and Slate, an autobiography by University of Wales, Bangor, social policy lecturer Charlotte Williams, Residues, poems by RS Thomas and the spoof gumshoe thriller Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce.

Polling closes on November 9 at www.worldbookday.com or by post to: Book Marketing Ltd, 224 Idol Lane, London EC3R 5DD. Results will be announced on World Book Day: March, 6, 2003.

The 25 titles from Wales are: Sugar and Slate - Charlotte Williams: Theautobiographical story of a Welsh-African mixed-race woman, whose unusual upbringing in both parents' homelands became a continuous quest for her identity.

A Year in a Small Country - Jon Gower (Editor): A collection of one year's month-bymonth extracts from the diaries of naturalist William Condry, hill farmer Patrick Dobbs, and poet Christine Evans, comprising sensitive and lyrical descriptions celebrating the miracles and complexities of country life.

Magpies: Short Stories from Wales - Rob-ert Nisbet (Editor): A diverse collection of 19 short stories by Glenda Beagan, Leonora Brito, Gillian Clarke, Jo Hughes, Mike Jenkins, Catherine Merriman and Robert Nisbet, with short biographical notes on the authors.

I Know Another Way From Tintern To Saint David's - Jon Gower (Editor): A diverse collection of six essays by Patrick Dobbs, Christine Evans, Jon Gower, Robert Minhinnick, Osi Rhys Osmond and Jim Perrin capturing the atmosphere and reflecting the feelings aroused on a journey along the ancient pilgrim route from Tintern Abbey to St David's.

The People of Wales - Gareth Elwyn Jones and Dai Smith: A volume of nine essays by renowned historians Neil Evans, Mathew Griffiths, Philip Jenkins, Bill Jones, Huw Pryce, Chris Williams, Mari Williams and the editors. An interesting insight into the making of the people of Wales, 1000-2000, in social and cultural, economic and political terms.

Residues - RS Thomas: A collection of over50 poems by RS Thomas (1913-2000), one of the major and most prolific 20th century Welsh poets writing in English, reflecting a love of nature and impatience with modern technology, written in prophetic and playful, tender and humorous styles, mostly previously unpublished.

Blind Man's Kiss - Menna Elfyn: The thirdbilingual collection of poems on diverse topics by Menna Elfyn, comprising 45 original Welsh poems with English translations by Joseph Clancy, Gillian Clarke, Tony Conran, Elin ap Hywel and Nigel Jenkins.

Parables and Faxes - Gwyneth Lewis: Thefirst collection in English, acclaimed as ``simply a masterpiece'' by one critic, by a Cardiffborn poet who writes in both Welsh and English.

Power - Elin ap Hywel (Editor): An anthol-ogy of 23 short stories by 16 women from Wales, many of the stories looking at the concept of power in women's lives, together with biographical notes.

Cardiff Dead - John Williams: A contempo-rary novel set in Cardiff in 1999 reflecting on development and deterioration in relationships, together with the end of an era as the lively Tiger Bay inhabitants mourn the disappearance of their environment and the death of one of their most colourful characters.

Aberystwyth Mon Amour - Malcolm Pryce: A black comedy set in Aberystwyth about the inquiries of a private investigator as he seeks to unravel the mystery of the murders and disappearances of local teenage youths. …