‘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.

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.

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.