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Christien Gholson's Blog Entries

In the 19th entry into Wales Arts Review's quest to find the Greatest Welsh Novel, Phil Morris puts forward the case for Dannie Abse's Cardiff coming of age novel Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve, part of our Library of Wales series.

Rereading Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve twenty years later was an even more rewarding experience. Leo and Dannie’s political radicalism had not lost any of its power to move me, but now the corresponding portrayal of childhood innocence – endless summer holidays and the tumultuous mystique that seems to emanate from the opposite sex – suffused the novel with an added strain of melancholic loss. [...] It is a novel that is undeniably Welsh, in accent and location, but one with broad international horizons. 

Buy Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve from the Parthian online bookshop.

Rachel Trezise and Patrick Jones will be reading as 'The Best Writers from the Valleys and Beyond' part of the Literature Programme of new Blackwood festival Velvet Coalmine this week. See them at the Literature Stages on Saturday 6th September between 11.30am and 5pm. Free entry.

Lewis Jones
The second of Lewis Jones' two epic industrial novels of the 1930s.
Len, son of Big Jim and dynamic political organiser, takes centre stage in Lewis Jones' sequel to Cwmardy. Along his journey, he is influenced by Mary, a teacher, and the Communist Party, which becomes central to his work both underground and in union politics, and to his decision to leave and fight in the Spanish Civil War.
We Live paints a graphic portrait of the casual exploitation, tragedy and violence as well as the political hope and humanity of South Wales industrial workers from the 1900s to the 1930s
Lewis Jones
The first of Lewis Jones' two epic industrial novels of the 1930s.
Big Jim, collier and ex-Boer War soldier, and his partner Siân endure the impact of strikes, riots and war, while their son Len emerges as a sharp thinker and dynamic political organiser.
Cwmardy paints a graphic portrait of the casual exploitation, tragedy and violence as well as the political hope and humanity of South Wales industrial workers from the 1900s to the 1930s.

Wales Arts Review have suggested that the book The Withered Root, written by Rhys Davies, might be the greatest Welsh novel. The story narrates the downfall of Reuben Daneils and his people from the South Wales industrial valley, involving interesting elements of passions that lead to human sexuality which chapel culture then represses. The troubled lives of the characters take the reader to analyse the point of view of different generations, finally confronting the conflict between the body and the spirit.

The Withered Root is a novel that captures, in rarefied prose, a quintessential element of Welshness. That it is a strand of Welsh life largely forgotten by the vast majority of the public makes it all the more important as a historical document. Through fiction we remember.

“It is therefore, I think, not a Great Welsh Novel, but simply a great novel that happens to be Welsh; we should be grateful that it, and he, was so.”
-Dylan Moore, Wales Arts Review

A critically-acclaimed short story collection of alienation and the high-life of ex-pats in Dubai, written by Welsh journalist Craig Hawes, has recently been banned in the UAE, the very place it is set, joining a forbidden list that includes Robin Moore’s 1977 sex-orgy blockbuster Dubai.

While many more liberal European texts that do not necessarily ‘adhere to the religious and moral values of UAE’ such as Fifty Shades of Grey are widely available in Dubai (even if the sequels were not), all books available in the UAE have to go through the censors first. Yet rather than public out-rage and book burnings, the titles that upset are silently censored out of existence in the bookshops of Dubai and removed from sale.


Welcome to a friendly, informal and interesting festival that everyone from the casual to the most passionate reader can enjoy... Win a free Sunday pass in our competition below.

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun…
Fancy reading something Slovakian this autumn? The nights may be drawing in but, before you decide which books to hibernate with, why not join us for a pop-up international literary festival in Cardiff this October and discover new playwrights, novelists, works in translation and more? Will you find your new favourite drama king or queen or meet new local and global talents?

Novelist Dan Tyte is offering you two dates for your diary this month, one the night after the first. Does that makes him keen or you desperate? We'll soon find out. Here they are in order of appearance...


Date 1: Making Hay, Wednesday 27th August, Digital event: Live Hay Festival Blog interview with Dan Tyte at Google Hangouts at 7pm.  Play it safe with a digital first date.


Tis the season for summer reading and sunbathing across our dear planet. In Wales, two critics enjoyed Michael Oliver-Semenov's memoir of the first years of his relationship with his wife, Sunbathing in Siberia.

On the New Welsh Review website, Phillip Clement wrote...

'...offering a charming and thought provoking perspective of life in modern Russia... Mao’s seemingly ceaseless ability for honest and frank prose is one of this book’s real strengths... Insightful and hilarious, the memoir prompts the reader to re-evaluate their approach to the East'

Meanwhile over on Wales Arts Review this week, Liam Nolan wrote: 'Sunbathing in Siberia is a great love story and shows what can be dealt with and what is possible with the right person at your side. Everything good that happens does so because of the kindness and love of others; this reflection applies to both his life in Cardiff and in Siberia. As he writes early in the book, people are people, wherever they are.'