'Y Llyfrgell': National Library of Wales

Fflur Dafydd wins £5,000 literary prize for book set at The National Library of Wales
- The National Library of Wales, Wednesday, 05 August '09

Yesterday in The National Eisteddfod in Bala, the Daniel Owen Memorial Prize for literature was awarded to Fflur Dafydd. The £5,000 literary prize was awarded to Dafydd for her latest book entitled Y Llyfrgell (The Library), a fantasy novel set in The National Library of Wales.

The adjudicators said the novel Y Llyfrgell (The Library) was a challenging piece of work that would upset many readers and would stimulate debate about the future of our national heritage.

In the novel Dafydd portrays a world where women are in government, politicians have an undue influence on the arts and new technology overshadows the book – and the author. Dafydd said she was inspired to write her novel while visiting the National Library at Aberystwyth every day for three months as she completed her doctorate on R S Thomas in 2004.

“I found myself imagining all sorts of different scenarios that could happen in the library rather than concentrating on my work,” she said.

“But I didn’t have time to write it until last year and it took me about six months."

“There is something thrilling about the grandeur of the buildings, the red carpet, the white pillars and the concept of all the secrets and history of the nation being collected in one place.”

The judges of the competition were unanimous in their decision, which was announced at the National Eisteddfod of Wales yesterday. John Rowlands, Geraint Vaughan Jones and Rhiannon Lloyd described her work as "brimful of humour, unforgettable characters, and an excellent narrative" adding that they enjoyed the book’s satire and black humour and the way it lampoons academics, civil servants, politicians and janitors and throws them remorselessly into a sinister and bizarre crisis.

Set in the National Library in 2020, the story follows a group of characters during one dramatic day when two armed, female librarians take the readers hostage in the reading room.

According to Andrew Green, 'We think Fflur's book is almost certainly the first novel, out of the six million books we have on our shelves, that's set entirely within the National Library of Wales. We're delighted that one of our most distinguished readers has won the Daniel Owen Memorial Prize for 'Y Llyfrgell' - though we're confident the real National Library isn't quite as bizarre and sinister as the one in the novel.'

This is the second Eisteddfod prize for Dafydd, who won the National Eisteddfod Prose Medal in 2006.