A warm welcome to our spring newsletter!
Sun is finally shining, the daffodils are out and in the Parthian Team are in a happy, hyper-productive mood! We’ve lots to tell you as so many excellent books and exciting events are coming your way in the next few months…
Let me introduce myself: my name is Glenda, I am from Italy and I am the latest of a string of interns who inevitably, as the clock strikes the eleventh week of placement, drift away towards an undefined unemployment-limbo to the notes of ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. Before I slope off to do that, let me tell you what Parthian have been up to while fighting the cold temperatures, and all the wonderful things you might have missed.
Where were we?
Last weekend Parthian was in full-xx mode. Showcasing writing by and for women from Wales and the world, the second edition of the xx women’s writing festival was a great success. Spanning between World Book Day (6 March) and International Women’s Day (8 March) at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Parthian was well represented there, with readings by poet Jemma L. King (The Shape of a Forest), novelist Kit Habianic (Until Our Blood is Dry), short story writer Georgia Carys Williams (Rarebit, Second-hand Rain) and novelist Carly Holmes (The Scrapbook). Co-organised by our editor Susie Wild, the festival also saw Damian Walford Davies introducing new readers to Brenda Chamberlain in the ‘Men Reading Women’ slot and Rarebit contributor Holly Muller revealing her other talent as singer with Hail! The Planes in the literary salon. Rarebit contributor Rhian Edwards read out the worst lines of Fifty Shades of Grey in the Sex Panel and fab Mab Jones ran a popular workshop on performing poetry. Want to know more? Check our account of the xx here.
The first task I was assigned was selecting a winner for the Library of Wales competition which was launched during the Christmas holidays at our Parthian/Seren pop-up shop in Castle’s Arcade, Cardiff. Our good hearts yearned to reward all the subscribers, but eventually the lucky one was Ceri Dunstan, a lovely gal from Swansea.
She was tricked into getting to Mumbles for an ice-cream/cup of coffee courtesy of Parthian, and drove back home with an even better prize: the full Library of Wales collection: 38 books, no less!
Rarebit, the illustrated collection of 21 short stories to celebrate our 21st birthday, was selected as January’s Welsh Book of the Month by Waterstones. Edited by Susie Wild, the limited edition has almost sold out. If you haven’t had the chance to grab a copy yet, pop on our website to buy with free postage and packaging. Among Rarebit’s contributors are established voices in Welsh literary panorama, but genuine praise also goes to the new generations of Parthian’s authors: Wales Arts Review believe that Dan Tyte’s story 'Onwards' was ‘a great opener, taking you on a perambulation through a city, laying out its geography securely, offering the prospect of many adventures’, whilst Carly Holmes’ 'Friday' is described as ‘a poignant study of grief, its ordinariness alongside its strangenesses. The narrator’s sense of the hills moving is a wonderful metaphor for the shifting sands of loss’.
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the launch of Dan Tyte’s debut novel Half Plus Seven with a reading event at Porter’s in Cardiff. The room was packed with an army of stylish, beautiful people wandering around, clinking glasses and basically being awesome in Dan’s honour (have a look at the amazing pictures on Dan’s website). Team Parthian helped to play a cast of misfits from the novel, with Rob donning a balaclava and becoming Special Brew-swigging PR man Bill McDare on stage, and the crowd (mis)placing all their hopes and dreams in Claire’s admirable yet questionable tarot-reading skills as Sister Gina. We’ve got to give her credit, Claire looked fab in that cape! Half Plus Seven is out on 2 April, give it a chance and you won’t regret it. Pre-order is available from our website, click here!
Griff Rhys Jones started 2014 in style: his ITV series A Great Welsh Adventure premiered on 6 January, his book Insufficiently Welsh, an informal guide to Wales detailing his explorative (and introspective) journey as seen on TV, was launched a couple of days later and went straight to being elected Welsh Book of the Month for February by Waterstones, WH Smith and Independent stores. The publishing trade’s magazine BookBrunch recently listed it as #1 seller in Stanford’s stores. As George Clooney would put it, what else? Don’t forget to check out Griff’s promotional tour dates!
January was a month of brilliant recognition for Rachel Trezise’s Tonypandemonium, which won the People’s Prize for Best Production in English at the second edition of the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards. The first foray into playwriting by the acclaimed Rhondda writer had already received enthusiastic reviews on its debut last October: Wales Online saluted Tonypandemonium as ‘a powerful and raw drama’, ‘a heartfelt, well-crafted and brave piece of work which is no doubt the start of Trezise’s successful career as a playwright’. And we couldn’t agree more on such an encouraging prediction. We are proud to announce that the printed version of Tonypandemonium will be very soon out by Parthian, keep a beady eye on our website for more details on the publishing date. Congratulations to Rachel!
Kit Habianic was one of Parthian’s stars at the xx women’s writing festival. Did you know that her debut novel Until Our Blood is Dry started its daily serialisation in The Western Mail last month? The book offers a poignant portrait of a family shattered by contrasting sentiments during The 1984 Miners’ Strike. The serialisation marked the 30th anniversary of the strike, honouring a tragic series of events that touched a great part of Welsh population during the 1980s, and whose consequences are still visible to this day. An absolute must-read. Until Our Blood Is Dry is out on 2 April, you can pre-order a copy here.
A Pearl of Great Price, the collection of previously unpublished love letters between Dylan Thomas and Pearl Kazim edited by Jeff Towns, officially debuted on Valentine’s Day, right before the first event of the DT100, a global celebration of the poem’s extraordinary life and work in his centenary year. The story of an epistolary love affair between the Welsh literary sensation and his American mistress made it across oceans and continents, earning a special mention in The Australian, along with an article in The Sunday Times.
In other Jeff Towns’ news, earlier this month he embarked on a mission on the famed Dylan’s Mobile Bookshop and celebrated St. David’s Day at the Hwyl Green Man Festival in Camden, London. The crowd enjoyed music, food & drinks, valuable books and ‘all things Welsh & Wonderful’. Check out Dylan’s Mobile Bookstore’s Facebook page to get details on forthcoming events. The talented Rachel Trezise was also at the Hwyl reading short stories from her latest collection Cosmic Latte and Mab Jones (Ten of the Best) was also there poeting. (We tracked down a lovely recount of the festival on the blog Life is a Festival).
Fresh from the xx Festival, Jemma L. King left the motherland to fly all the way to Canada! Last week she was at Canada’s largest poetry event, The March Hare Festival
in Ottawa, for a hectic sequence of discussions and readings. Skimming through the website we read that ‘at the Columbus Club on Saturday evening in Corner Brook, poets, musicians and patrons sit around tables, bar-style, and break during the intermission to replenish their glasses or line up to partake of the Hare soup. After the readings, the stories and songs go on, as they would in a kitchen party, until the wee hours of the morning’. Sounds to us like a very interesting place to pop by, if only we could have all joined Jemma in her transatlantic trip! Jemma also appeared on CBC, was driven seven hours through a blizzard, saw the ‘cute’ houses of Newfoundland, and visited the frozen sea to see the place where polar bears live on the ice. Check out BBC’s article
on Jemma and Ifor ap Glyn holding high Welsh poetry’s name abroad!
Exciting news for Debz Hobbs-Wyatt! The author, winner of the 2013 Bath Short Story Award, recently flew to Los Angeles where she read and discussed from her novel While No One Was Watching
! The event took place in Stories Books & Cafè on March 14th
at 7.30 pm (Pacific time zone, mind you!). Follow Debz’ starred-and-striped tour on her Twitter
Wales Arts Review
has recently committed to the ambitious project of searching for the ‘Greatest Welsh Novel’. For the next few months and every fortnight a title from a long-list of 25 will be analysed and discussed on the journal. Stevie Davies’ Awakening
, published by Parthian last May, is part of the prestigious selection and was reviewed by John Lavin in the latest issue of WAR
. The editor identifies the novel as a gripping example of historical fiction, moulded around the desire of giving voice to the silenced, forgotten heroines of a not-so distant past: ‘Awakening
is a sad work but it is also a deeply moving and profound one. [..] Indeed, you leave these pages feeling more fully conscious of yourself and the world around you than you did when you began them. What more can you ask for from a book?’. You can read the full review here
. Also, check out the article penned by our new lovely intern Maren from Germany on Awakening here
Also featured in WAR
is the piece ‘Magic and Loss: In Conversation with Carly Holmes’, a brilliant interview giving some insight on the artist’s plunge into traditional gothic fiction through her recently-published Ghost Story
. The short story, also on WAR, is deeply rooted in Carly’s experience while living in Aberarth. The mystic nature of its valley and cottages prompted her to research the town’s history and discover about the existence of a local witch, who had daunted the area a century ago. Click to read the full interview
and Ghost Story
. Don’t forget that Carly’s wonderful debut novel, The Scrapbook,
will be out in May. The book is available for pre-order on our website
and Carly has a number of events coming up to promote it.
Up and Coming
The epic Library of Wales Short Story Anthologies Story I and Story II will be presented in style during a launch at Swansea University’s Abbey on March 26th at 6 pm. Editor Dai Smith will introduce Rachel Trezise, Stevie Davies and George Brinley Evans reading from their stories featured in the collection. The project includes 84 distinctive works across two volumes, ranging from classic writers such as Dylan Thomas, Rhys Davies and Dilys Rowe to the prize-winning Rachel Trezise, Emyr Humphreys and Leonora Brito. The anthology is defined by Dai as a ‘unique, definitive true story of Wales, a
required reading for anyone from Edinburgh to Ely, from London to Llanfrothen interested in the underlying dynamics of the Welsh experience’.
Both volumes are available for pre-order on our website.
Happy news for all readers with a taste for adventure. John Harrison’s trilogy of the Far South will be available later this month in a completely revisited edition! The trilogy includes:
- The paperback edition of Forgotten Footprints, Wales Book of The Year in 2013, featuring the lost stories of merchantmen, navy men, sealers, whalers and aviators who, along with scientists and adventurers, drew the first ghostly maps of the Antarctica Peninsula, South Shetland Islands and the Weddell Sea.
- The reissue of Where the Earth Ends, following John’s journey through Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego to the tip of South America, initiated by the disclosure of a 300 year-old manuscript and a forgotten book
- The reissue of Cloud Road, Wales Book of the Year in 2011, the recollection of John’s journey through the Andean nation. For five months John walked alone into remote villages and experienced life as if Columbus had never set foot onto the New Continent!
- Alix Nathan’s latest short story collection His Last Fire will be launched on Saturday March 22nd at Yarborough House in Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, 6-8 pm, preceding its official release on April 2nd. Pre-order a copy here!
- Join Griff Rhys-Jones in his Insufficiently Welsh’s meet & talk tour! The author will be around for the next couple of weeks, have a look at all the dates on our Event section.
- Our favourite literary hub in London, The Wheatsheaf, will host the first Welsh Cultural Embassy pop-up festival! Save the date: Sunday, April 6th, starting at 2pm. We’ll be kicking off with readings from Dan Tyte’s Half Plus Seven and author Rhian Elizabeth (Six Pounds Eight Ounces, Seren), we will then be joined by poet Jonathan Edwards (My Family and Other Superheroes, Seren) before launching Kit Habianic’s outstanding debut novel Until Our Blood is Dry. Tickets are £5 on the door, read more about the event here!
- On April 23rd at 7.30 pm the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea is hosting an event celebrating Tyler Keevil's recent works: The Drive (Myriad Editions, 2013) and Burrard Inlet (Parthian, 2014). Tyler will be in conversation with Alan Bilton (The Sleepwalker’s Ball, Alcemi, 2009), writer and Senior Lecturer of English Language and Literature at Swansea University (details here).
- Carly Holmes is launching her amazing debut novel The Scrapbook in The Cellar Bar Acoustic Lounge in Cardigan on Friday April 25th. Have a look at the event on Facebook for more details. Carly will also make a special appearance at a Bare Fiction soiree on Wednesday April 30th at Gwdihw Cafè & Bar, Cardiff, 7.30pm.
Parthian in the Media
'The prose here is slow and suspenseful, with the larger-than-life characters and strange goings-on adding a touch of magical realism to the text. [..]Part novel, part history lecture, I came away feeling like I had never really known my home until now.’
Ffion Lindsay, The New Welsh Review
'Imaginative writing that illuminates our future'
Peter Stead, The Welsh Agenda
'It is a curious beast. A hybrid of travelogue and (sort-of) memoir, it is part coffee-table book – and it is a beautifully produced book with gorgeous photos – part existential-musing and part TV-tie-in. [...] There is some impressive writing too. [...] This is not a serious book. It is great fun and easy reading. But it does, unusually for a TV tie-in make rather a profound point. The challenge that this ‘insufficiently Welsh’ man lays down to those of us born and brought up here is to stop taking the country we live in for granted. Perhaps we all need to see it with the eyes of an outsider.'
Adrian Masters, Wales Arts Review
'Unflinching and razor sharp, Half Plus Seven will make you wince and chuckle in equal measure, and then it'll melt your heart.'
'A lethal cocktail of Bukowski and Mad Men...'
Mike Williams, Editor, NME
'Half Plus Seven is a funny and warm-hearted novel, well-conceived and well-executed [...] Dan Tyte has either been a very dislikable young man at some point, or he is an author with a great deal of promise.'
Jamie Woods, Wales Arts Review