USW-sponsored New Welsh Writing Awards winner announced

Mandy Sutter, from Ilkley won the top prize at the 2016 Welsh Writing Awards. Neil Gibson

Mandy Sutter, from Ilkley, won the top prize at the 2016 New Welsh Writing Awards 

New Welsh Review, in association with the University of South Wales and CADCentre, announced the winner of the New Welsh Writing Awards 2016: University of South Wales Prize for Travel Writing at a ceremony at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff on Thursday 7 July.

The Prize celebrates the best short form travel writing from emerging and established writers based in the UK and Ireland. The judges are New Welsh Review editor Gwen Davies and award winning travel writer Rory MacLean.

Mandy Sutter from Ilkley won the top prize for her re-telling of her mother’s story of growing up in mid 1960s white Nigeria through her own eyes, ‘Bush Meat: As My Mother Told Me’. She was given a cheque for £1,000 by judge Rory MacLean and her winning entry will be published by New Welsh Review on their New Welsh Rarebyte imprint this autumn and will also receive a positive critique by leading literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes at WME.

NWR editor and Prize judge Gwen Davies said ‘Travel writing creates bridges of understanding across physical and imaginative borders, between our own and 'other' cultures as well as between the past and the present. Mandy Sutter's Nigeria rises like a mirage from her story as a child there in the mid 1960s; her use of fiction techniques such as empathy and multiple viewpoints, especially her mother's adult experience as an ex-pat negotiating her own family's conforming views of race and class, create a complete arc of innovative concision.’

Co-judge Rory MacLean said ‘Mandy Sutter's 'Bush Meat' triumphs, in its lean prose and true dialogue, in its disarming humour, in its evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s white Nigeria. In her story, Mandy stitches together the threads of memory to create a moving tapestry of lost life, building bridges of understanding across time and place, enhancing literature's ever-changing, ever-supple genre.’

Mandy Sutter grew up in Kent but now lives in Ilkley with her partner and a large black dog called Fable. She has co-written two books about the lives of Somali women, published in 2006 and 2007, and her first novel Stretching It was published in 2013. She has also published three poetry pamphlets with independent presses. 

Second prize was awarded to Cardiff University PhD student Nathan Llewelyn Munday for his piece ‘Seven Days, A Pyrenean Trek’ that uses European creation myths to map the highs and lows of the grand narrative. A deceptively simple hike with his father becomes a timeless, scholarly, rich, human, engaging and heartfelt Odyssey. Nathan wins a weeklong residential course of his choice at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Gwynedd, north Wales.

Third prize went to travel writer John Harrison for his piece ‘The Rains of Titikaka’ that tracks the rise and fall of the pre-Columbian city of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, highest city in the ancient world and the hub of a trading empire stretching from Chile to Peru. John wins a weekend stay at Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, north Wales.

All three entries will be published in extract form in the autumn edition of New Welsh Reader (112) on 1 September and all three winners will also receive a one-year subscription to the magazine.

New Welsh Review also announced the winner of their Best Travel Book Poll at the event, Losing Israel by Jasmine Donahaye (Seren), a moving and honest account of the author’s relationship with Israel, which spans travel writing, nature writing and memoir. Voted for by the public, Losing Israel was the overwhelming winner from a shortlist of three titles that comprised Wildwood: A Journey through Trees by Roger Deakin (Penguin) and A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor (John Murray). Losing Israel has also been shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2016. 

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