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Debut novelist selected for Wales Book of the Year

12 June 2023

Sophie Buchaillard

Creative writing alumna shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year Award

Dr Sophie Buchaillard (Creative Writing, MA 2020, PhD current) is one of three writers recognised in the Wales Book Of The Year 2023 Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award shortlist, announced last month.

This Is Not Who We Are makes the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award shortlist alongside Fannie by Rebecca F. John and Drift by Caryl Lewis.

1994, Iris and Victoria are pen friends. Iris writes about her life with her family in Paris. Victoria is in a refugee camp in Goma having fled the genocide in Rwanda. One day Victoria’s letters stop, and Iris is told she’s been moved. As the pressure of long-kept family secrets builds, will these two women ever find each other?

Franco-Welsh writer Sophie Buchaillard just submitted her Creative Writing PhD – Between Cultures: Travel Writing, Identity and the Global Novel, and is awaiting her viva at the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. Earlier this year Sophie became one of 10 Hay Writers at Work, alongside two school alumni Taz Rahman and Louise Mumford.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in 2024, she gives this insight into her hotly-tipped novel:

"Fiction has the power to humanise the otherwise remote, through eliciting empathy in the reader. I hope This Is Not Who We Are will act as a conversation starter for the reader to consider parallels between recent history and our contemporary treatment of migrants and ask themselves questions about the sort of world we can our children to grow into."

The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award is one of eight Wales Book Of The Year awards including People’s Award (English language) and Gwobr Barn y Bobl (the Welsh-language people’s prize).

Sophie Buchaillard joins a growing number of creative writers from the School to be recognised at Wales Book of the Year.

Megan Angharad Hunter (Philosophy and Welsh, BA 2022) won with her debut tu ôl i’r awyr in 2022. In 2019 Ailbhe Darcy took the title with poetry collection Insistence, with fellow lecturer at the University’s highly regarded Centre for Creative and Critical Writing Tristan Hughes, scooping the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award with Hummingbird in 2018.

Presented by Literature Wales, the Wales Book Of The Year Awards are presented annually to the best works in the fields of creative writing and literary criticism in four categories: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Children and Young People.

Literature Wales Executive Director Claire Furlong said: “It is a huge honour to announce the Wales Book of the Year shortlist. The Award is one of the highlights of the literary calendar in Wales, and it is most certainly one of our highlights as an organisation. It is a pleasure to co-celebrate Welsh Literature with writers, publishers, readers, and the whole literary sector.”

The 2023 Wales Book of The Year Awards are announced at a special awards ceremony on 13 July at Tramshed in Cardiff. Voting for the People's Award is live until 23 June.

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