DAFYDD WINS THE DANIEL OWEN MEMORIAL PRIZE
Fflur Dafydd is the winner of the Daniel Owen Memorial
Prize at the Meirion and District National Eisteddfod
this year, in a competition that attracted seven litterateurs.
Daniel Owen Memorial Prize is given for an unpublished
novel of not less than 50,000 words with a strong story
line. The adjudicators this year were John Rowlands,
Geraint Vaughan Jones and Rhiannon Lloyd, and the title
of the prize-winning novel is Y Llyfrgell.
of the cash prize was donated this year by the D Tecwyn
Lloyd Trust and £1,500 was given by Siop Awen
years after winning the Prose Medal at Swansea and District
Eisteddfod 2006, and a few months after she snatched
the Oxfam Hay Prize for Emerging Writers 2009 for her
English novel Twenty Thousand Saints, Fflur Dafydd has
reached the summit once again with a controversial novel
that takes a peep into one of the major institutions
of Wales, the National Library. Set in the year 2020,
the novel follows a cast of characters during one dramatic
day when two armed lady librarians occupy the Library.
is a satirical novel, with a large dose of black humour,
which lampoons librarians, academicians, civil servants,
politicians and janitors, and throws them mercilessly
together in a sinister and bizarre crisis. The novel
also deals with a number of topical themes – digitisation,
post-feminism, literary criticism and, most importantly,
a nation’s memory and identity. The novel is an
alternative view of the nation’s future, a future
where women will govern; politicians overly influence
the arts, and the book – and the author –
are things that have been forgotten as the new technology
takes their place. This is undoubtedly a challenging
novel that will upset many a reader – particularly
the male critic – and is certain to stimulate
Fflur Dafydd’s other works, such as her novel
about Bardsey, the novel is an amusing analysis of one
of the icons of Wales, with the location itself turning
into a major character during the course of the novel,
as the reader sees this institution in a new and thrilling
light. The author was inspired by the place when she
was there completing her doctorate on R.S. Thomas in
2004, as she visited the Library daily over three months.
found myself imagining all sorts of different scenarios
that could happen in the Library rather than concentrating
on my work! There is something thrilling about the grandeur
of the building, the red carpet, the white pillars,
and the concept that all the secrets and history of
the nation being collected in one place. This is one
of the most powerful and significant institutions that
we have in Wales – but, again, this is one of
the last places that one would expect to find any kind
of upheaval, as it is such a quiet and peaceful place
– and it is that duality that interests me.”
novel has already broken new ground, as this is the
first novel to be set completely in the National Library.
The novel also pushes the envelope constantly between
the real and the absurd, containing references as it
does to all kinds of historical and fictional authors
and, although it is set in 2020, the author’s
achievement is that she has created a terrible and absurd
future that is believable enough.
novel is published two years after the centenary of
the National Library in 2007 and it will be on sale
on the Eisteddfod field and in shops throughout Wales
Dafydd was raised in the Llandysul area. She graduated
in English from Aberystwyth University, before going
on to gain a doctorate for her studies into the works
of R.S. Thomas at Bangor University. By now she is a
lecturer in the English Department of Swansea University.
came to the fore in several competitions at the National
Eisteddfod, including the short story prize and the
Emyr Feddyg scholarship. Her second novel, Atyniad (Attraction),
won the Prose Medal at the National Eisteddfod Swansea
and District, 2006, and her first English novel, Twenty
Thousand Saints, won the Oxfam Hay Prize for Emerging
is also a popular singer-songwriter, and her third album,
Byd Bach (Small World), which is a journey in song around
Wales, is released in October this year, on the Rasal
has just married Iwan last Saturday and they will be
making their home in Carmarthen.
National Eisteddfod draws about 160,000 visitors a year,
and it is held in the north and south in alternate years.
For the price of a daily field ticket, all the activities
of the National Eisteddfod are available to the visitor.
Eisteddfod receives a grant from the National Assembly
of Wales via the Welsh Language Board, and the Government
gave £100,000 in addition for the Meirion and
District Eisteddfod in 2009. In addition, the Eisteddfod
receives finance from the Welsh Unitary Authorities
in partnership with the Welsh Local Government Association.
The Eisteddfod is being held on the Rhiwlas Estate near
Bala until 8 August.