THERE SHE BLOWS! New Welsh Writing

THERE SHE BLOWS! Recent Welsh Writing
Sioned Puw Rowlands
Noir has been a familiar frame of reference for discussing contemporary writing from Wales in recent years.

Mihangel Morgan, one of Wales's foremost and most distinctive contemporary authors, has been described as a Welsh noir writer par excellence in his exploration of urban landscapes. His literary worlds, whilst often humorous, are fragmentary, populated by dislocated figures. His most recent novel, however, Croniclau Pentre Simon (Y Lolfa, 2003), is ostensibly set in a Victorian village in rural west Wales.

Mihangel Morgan's fiction is now available to English-language readers for the first time, with the publication of novelist and poet Christopher Meredith's excellent translation of Melog (Seren, 2005). In this issue, Transcript publishes a translation commissioned by Welsh Literature Abroad of an excerpt from Croniclau Pentre Simon, also by Christopher Meredith.

Caryl Lewis' Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004), Welsh Book of the Year in 2005, is also set in west Wales, on a farm where a sister and two brothers struggle to come to terms with the demise of a once monolingual, rural way of life. Martha, Jac a Sianco will be published in English translation by Parthian in 2007. In this issue, Transcript publishes a translation again commissioned by Welsh Literature Abroad of an excerpt from the novel, translated by the author. Also published in this issue, in French and German translation, is an article by Diarmuid Johnson which considers the novel in the context of writings about and writings from the Celtic fringes.

Lynette Roberts did both, writing at a distance from her native Buenos Aires, where she was born of Welsh stock in 1909, and also from within the context of west Wales after she moved there in her later years. The republication of her work by Carcanet (Collected Poems, ed. Patrick McGuinness, 2005) is a fantastic opportunity to appreciate her contribution as a poet to the development of twentieth-century British poetry and to read the work of her near-contemporaries, David Jones, R. S. Thomas and Dylan Thomas, in a new context.

Read critic Tony Bianchi's article on Welsh noir and read about other Welsh noir proponents Niall Griffiths, John Williams, Sean Burke and Malcolm Pryce on the Welsh Literature Abroad website.

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