In 2015, Cardiff-Cornish musician Gwenno Saunders won the Welsh Music Prize with an album inspired by Owain Owain’s 1976 Welsh-language dystopian novel, Y Dydd Olaf , from which her record takes its name. In 2018, Lloyd Markham was a Betty Trask award-winner for his Wales-set book of drugs, friendship and alien abduction, Bad Ideas\Chemicals, and his book went on the following year to win the New Welsh Readers’ Poll for the best ever dystopian novella published in English. This summer, Rhiannon Lewis won second place in the New Welsh Writing Awards Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian novella, with her book The Significance of Swans, about mass disappearances, parallel realities and a violent intruder.
Gwen Davies talks to Rhiannon Lewis about her own evocative dystopia, Wales-sourced dystopias in general, explores how an author can combine the known and unknown, the intimate and places on the furthest reaches of our imagination, and asks what are those issues that cause most public anxiety today and how are fiction writers responding to them.
Gwen Davies has been editor of New Welsh Review since 2011 and a co-judge for the New Welsh Writing Awards since their inauguration in 2015. She has worked as creative editor at publishers including Parthian, founded the imprints Alcemi and New Welsh Rarebyte Her latest published translation is The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis.
Rhiannon Lewis’s debut novel, My Beautiful Imperial, was published in December 2017. In March 2018, it was listed by the Walter Scott Prize Academy as one of its ‘recommended’ historical novels. Rhiannon has also had success with short stories, including the Bristol Prize, 2018, Hammond House International Short Story Prize, 2017 and Frome Festival Prize, 2017 which she won.