‘freely and fiercely inventive short stories… supercharged with ideas.’ Jon Gower, reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls by Rob Mimpriss for Nation Cymru. ‘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. ‘Bathed in white fire in every sense... Borges would happily own them.’ Gee Williams on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘A fine Welsh writer working under the radar who deserves to be much better known.’ Nation Cymru greeting Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Beyond question Wales’s finest and most subtle short-story writer working today... A work of great beauty and subtle force, a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on Pugnacious Little Trolls. ‘Zestful playfulness... along with a grand energy and capacity for invention.’ Jon Gower reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls for Nation Cymru. ‘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. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘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. ‘There is nothing ostentatious about his writing... And yet the best of these pieces express something important about psychology and human relationships, and the sparseness of the writing is capable of considerable power.’ Brian George, The Short Review. ‘These stories are a rare kind of joy. Even when they approach moments of discontent and danger they bring an optimism founded in human relationships. This is a wonderful collection.’ Prof. Graëme Harper, editor, New Writing. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Owen Wynne Jones, translated by Rob Mimpriss. ‘Humour and pity often arise from the characters’ inability to understand themselves and those close to them. In suggesting the truth and the self-deception Mimpriss not only engages our sympathy but makes us question our assumptions about ourselves.’ Caroline Clark, gwales.com ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park,’ published in Prayer at the End. ‘An immaculate collection.’ Nigel Jarrett, twice winner of the Rhys Davies Award, on Prayer at the End, a collection of short stories by Rob Mimpriss published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Through the stealthy movements of his prose, Rob Mimpriss enacts the quiet enigma of people’s lives and relationships. The result is an understated fiction of compelling intensity.’ Prof M Wynn Thomas. ‘The story is called ‘Valiant’ in the collection, For His Warriors. I recommend it. Highly. It feels to me already like a classic.’ Fiona Owen, editor, Scintilla. ‘A quiet writer with a loud voice... I’ll be listening for more.’ Michael Nobbs, gwales.com on Reasoning: Twenty Stories, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘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. ‘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. ‘This exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss.

Image of Albert Razin from Udmurtia State University

On the Self-Immolation of Albert Razin

On 3rd October 2019, Radio Free Europe reports from the Russian Federation on the funeral of the seventy-nine year old Udmurt academic and language campaigner, Albert Razin, who burned himself to death in protest at Russia’s language policies.(1)

Their article quotes an opinion piece published in Izvestia by Valery Tishkov, also an academic, and an adviser to the Kremlin on Russia’s indigenous minorities. Although Russia is a signatory to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and has therefore committed itself to protecting Udmurtia’s community and culture, Tishkov expresses an assumption that the death of a minority language and the assimilation of its people is both inevitable and desirable, resorting to the claim that indigenous minorities should ‘integrate’ in the same way that émigré minorities do, a false comparison which the philosopher Will Kamlycka calls a ‘misunderstanding of nationalism’ because it ignores the fact that the émigré actively wants to adapt to the possibilities of a new land, while the indigene wants merely to be left in peace in his own.(2)

If the experience of the Celtic nations is typical, then the means by which language death is pursued and justified falls into two phases, as the industrial state acquires greater power over the peoples it rules. In the first, the language must be made to die because its speakers are barbaric, ignorant, immoral, churlish, nationalistic, racist, criminal, and unwilling to work in the mines; and in the second, it must be allowed to die because nobody speaks it, because everyone speaks the state-sponsored language, because making one’s children learn it is a form of child abuse, because the state-sponsored language has more speaker and better popular entertainment, and because writing government documents in the minority language is a waste of money.

In individual discussions with those who oppose us, we find that this order of argument is reversed. If we point to the vitality and practicality of our languages, if we point to the neurological advantages of bilingualism, if we point to the money that is spent on exalting the state-sponsored culture, and suggest that we would be content with a little of that, then our opponents become more openly racist as the pretexts they use to conceal their hatred of us collapse. Moreover, they reveal their double standards, since the duty they place on us to abandon our national identity and assume theirs is never matched by any obligations on their part to submit or conform or pay homage to their more powerful neighbours. Yet the self-immolation of a peaceful and civilised man, like hunger strikes, like crimes of protest and submission to imprisonment, and like the destruction of state property or the withholding of taxes,(3) is intended to refute both types of argument, demonstrating that the pain of hunger, or the hopelessness of imprisonment, or even the agony of burning to death, is still less than the spiritual torment — the assault on our ability to speak, to remember, to relate, to evaluate — caused by the death of our culture about us when we need it to make sense of ourselves and our world.

  1. Mike Eckel, ‘A Language Scholar's Suicide Draws Official Disdain — And Brings Hope To Russia's Minority Groups.’ Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 3rd October 2019.
  2. Will Kamlycka, ‘Misunderstanding Nationalism.’ In Theorising Nationalism, ed. by Ronald Beiner. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.
  3. Gwynfor Evans, Fighting For Wales. Talybont: Lolfa, 1991.

I am the author of four 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 (Albawtaka, 2014), an anthology of Welsh fiction in Arabic translation by Hala Salah Eldin, to Land of Change (Culture Matters), and to Creative Writing Studies (Multilingual Matters, 2007), essays on writing as an academic discipline edited by Graëme Harper and Jeri Kroll, and of the foreword to Rivers of Wales by Jim Perrin (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2022).

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), A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017), and of fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros. I was Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by Prof. David Healy at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and am the editor of Cockatrice Books. I hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing from Portsmouth University, and am a member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars in recognition of my academic work, and of the Welsh Academy in acknowledgement of my contributions to Welsh writing.