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Student wins Wales Book of Year award for debut novel

11 August 2021

A Welsh and Philosophy student from Cardiff University has won the 2021 Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award with her debut novel.

Megan Angharad Hunter, from Dyffryn Nantlle, picked up the award for tu ôl i’r awyr (Y Lolfa), which follows the relationship of Deian and Anest through the angst of their teenage lives.

The news was announced on BBC Radio Cymru’s Stiwdio programme on Wednesday 4 August 2021 where Megan joined presenter Nia Roberts, Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award winner Hazel Walford Davies, Golwg’s Editor Garmon Ceiro and Miriam Williams from Literature Wales.

Megan will receive a total prize of £4,000 and a specially commissioned trophy, designed and created by the artist Angharad Pearce Jones.

She said: “I'm very grateful to Llenyddiaeth Cymru for this honour and it is a privilege to be amongst writers and poets whom I admire so much.

“My novel follows two young characters in the 6th form as they struggle with mental health issues and the bond that grows between them. The novel is written from the perspective of both characters, and I wrote the voice of one of them with a strong Welsh dialect in an attempt to reflect the way that some young people in North Wales speak today.”

While tu ôl i’r awyr is Megan’s first novel, her work has been published in both Y Stamp and O’r Pedwar Gwynt magazines, and in 2020 she was selected to receive a Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary.

Earlier this week, Megan topped the Welsh-language Fiction category, which meant she was eligible for the overall award and crowning title of Wales Book of the Year 2021.

Professor Damian Walford Davies, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University with responsibility for the Welsh language and former Chair of Literature Wales, said: “To have won both the category and the overall prize in such a competitive Book of the Year field is a major achievement; to have done so with a debut novel makes Megan’s feat all the more impressive.

“‘Joint Honours’, therefore, in more than one sense, Megan is an ambassador for the creative imagination of which the whole University – not just its Welsh-language community – is proud.”

Wales Book of the Year has been run by Literature Wales since 2004, during which time some of Wales’ most renowned writers have been celebrated alongside brilliant new talents.

The annual prizes are awarded to outstanding literary talent from Wales across many genres and in both English and Welsh. There are twelve awards in total with a collective prize fund of £14,000.

In both Welsh and English there are four category winners, one People’s Choice winner and one overall winner. There are four categories in each language – Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-fiction and Children & Young People, with one of the four category winners announced as the Overall Winner, and claiming the title of Wales Book of the Year 2021.

Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “Megan received a Literature Wales Bursary to work on tu ôl i’r awyr, and so it is excellent to see her win the 2021 Welsh-language Wales Book of the Year Award this year. The book explores such important themes and in doing so has claimed, and will continue to claim, its place on the nation’s bookshelves for years to come.

“On behalf of Literature Wales, I congratulate Megan, and thank her for providing us with such delight and inspiration during a year where the power of literature has never been more important. I encourage everyone to visit your local bookshop or library and immerse yourself in the world of this exceptional title.”

Megan was one of two Cardiff University representatives in the running for 2021 Wales Book of the Year awards. Dr Siwan Rosser, Deputy Head of the School of Welsh, was shortlisted in the creative non-fiction category for Darllen y Dychymyg: Creu Ystyron Newydd i Blant a Phlentyndod yn Llenyddiaeth y Bedwaredd Ganrif ar Bymtheg.

Visit the Literature Wales website for a full list of winners.