‘Where is the Welsh short story going? Wherever Rob Mimpriss takes it.’ John O’Donoghue. Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Fiction. ‘Dark, complex, pensively eloquent’ (Sophie Baggott, New Welsh Review) — Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End, three short-story collections now published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Translations. ‘Lucid, skilful, and above all, of enormous timely relevance’ (Jim Perrin). Rob Mimpriss’s new translation of Morgan Llwyd’s allegorical masterpiece, A Book of Three Birds. Books: Fiction. ‘In the most seemingly unremarkable of Rob Mimpriss’s pieces there is a skill, and a mystery and elusiveness to that skill, which other short-story writers might envy.’ Gee Williams. Books: Translations. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Glasynys, translated by Rob Mimpriss. Click to read: ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park.’ Books: Anthologies. ‘Industry in the Country of the Blind,’ new fiction in Land of Change, radical prose from Wales edited by Gemma Howell and forthcoming from Culture Matters. Journals: Stories. ‘Traveller M. in the Land of the Cynocephali,’ new fiction just published in Otherwise Engaged: A Literary and Arts Journal 6:2 (Winter 2020). Books: Anthologies: ‘this exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss. Latest article — read a selection of Welsh folk tales compiled and retold by T. Gwynn Jones, taken from his book, Welsh Folklore and Folk Custom. Latest comment – ‘Decency’s Limits — Abuse and Blocking on Virginia Crosbie’s Page’, a response to hate crimes and harassment on the Facebook page of Ynys Môn’s Conservative MP.

A Summer’s Reading

18th April 2020: Since today is an online rally for Welsh independence, in place of the march that was cancelled due to the lockdown, I would like to talk about some of the books and music which I love, or which have shaped my view of Welsh nationhood and culture:

The short stories of Kate Roberts and John Gwilym Jones. Kate Roberts is unknown to the world, perhaps in part because she wrote in Welsh, in part because she excelled more as a short-story writer than as a novelist, but there is nothing I have written which is not inspired by her example, as much as I am inspired by Raymond Carver or Anton Chekhov. As an observer of people, and as a stylist, she is easily the equal of either Katherine Mansfield or Ernest Hemingway. John Gwilym Jones’s stories are quiet, ruminative, so inward in their focus that the first time I read them, as an MA student still dazzled by Hemingway, they went utterly over my head, yet one of them especially, reflecting on upbringing, heritage, education and belonging, has profoundly affected my recent work.

Histories of Wales by Gwynfor Evans and J. E. Lloyd. Gwynfor Evans, the first MP elected for Plaid Cymru, writing in the early 1970s, explores the history of Welsh nationalism as a history of resistance to English territorial expansionism and cultural assimilation which for him echoes Europe's wider struggles against fascism and its groping towards peace and cooperation within the EU. His predecessor as a historian, J. E. Lloyd, explores the writers, churchmen, and warrior kings of Welsh history, in books describing the years prior to 1282 and the years of the Glyndŵr revolt: a complete history of the independence of Wales.

Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, and Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. Writing in the first case from the perspective of Central Europe, and in the second with a knowledge of Asian history (the study of nationalism is an internationalist pursuit), both writers explore nationalism as humanism’s response to colonialism and extractive industrialisation. Between them, they utterly discredit the notion that the nationalism of stateless nations reflects any weakness of mind or failure of conscience, or that it is in any way related to fascism. For a voice from 1940s Germany making precisely the same distinction with evident hatred and scorn for the Nazis, read Sebastian Haffner’s Germany: Jekyll or Hyde.

Montserrat Guiberneau, Nations without States, and Ronald Beiber, Theorising Nationalism. Guiberneau predicts the increasing importance of stateless nations in influencing the future development of the European Union, while the essays edited by Beiber contain, among others, Bernard Yack and Will Kamlycka carefully undermining the moral and logical distinction between the state-sponsored nationalisms which are accepted in the liberal West, and the stateless nationalisms whose adherents are abused and vilified.

A Toy Epic and Outside the House of Baal, novels by Emyr Humphreys. A Toy Epic describes three boys from different backgrounds arriving at manhood, and seeks ways to think of rural, industrial and intellectual Wales as a whole. Outside the House of Baal explores, among other things, the conflict between pacifist nationalism and Britain’s involvement in Europe’s two great wars.

D. J. Williams, Hen Dŷ Ffarm, and Angharad Price, O! Tyn y Gorchudd. D. J. Williams’s memoir of childhood in the farming of Carmarthenshire seems a deliberate antithesis of Thoreau’s Walden Pond, concerned and deeply connected with the rural community and landscape, with neighbours, animals, heritage and family. Angharad Price’s novel, describing the harshness of life on a turn-of-the-century hill farm, nevertheless gives the gift of a long and richly imagined life to a relative of hers who died in infancy.

Gwynfor Evans replied to a letter of mine making a scholarly enquiry when I was writing my first novel, gave me his time, and a little of his unassuming passion for Wales. The composer Daniel Jones also replied, with great courtesy, good humour, patience, and wit, to a letter from an inquisitive schoolboy doing a project about Welsh composers. His string quartets are pensive, astringent, and unendingly consoling, and I listen to them time and again.

I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End and Pugnacious Little Trolls in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin, and to Land of Change, an anthology of radical writing forthcoming from Culture Matters. My work has appeared in Albawtaka Review, Annexe Magazine, Blue Tattoo, Cambrensis, Catharsis, East of the Web, The Harbinger, The Interpreter’s House, New Welsh Review, New Writing, Otherwise Engaged, The Swansea Review, Tears in the Fence, Writing in Education, and elsewhere. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.