‘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 work of great beauty and subtle force… a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on 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. 10th May 2021: Following Richard Suchorzewski’s vow to ‘return to terrify’ the functional parties of Wales, I would like to announce that I will return to terrify the Nobel Prize for Literature committee. Books: Fiction. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, 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. ‘There is nothing ostentatious about his writing: most of his characters lead unremarkable, even humdrum, lives; there are few dramatic plot developments... And yet the best of these pieces express something important...’ 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. Books: Translations. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Glasynys, 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. 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: 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. 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.

‘The Sheep’ was first published in The Swansea Review 13 (1994), pp. 55-56.

The Sheep: A Short Story

When Owain arrived, there was no one at the station. He was unsurprised, for there had not been anyone on the train. He stood on the platform, facing west, and said: ‘Doesn’t anyone live here any more?’

It was a debatable point. A few bedraggled sheep proceeded to do so, though inconclusively. It depends what you mean by live, they answered him in the end. When the only thing you’re equipped to do is eat grass and grow woolly slippers, you don’t call it living exactly. The subtleties of their argument were lost on Owain. All he heard was a pack of sheep baa-ing, and he’d heard that before. ‘Tell it to the butcher,’ he ordered them, miserably, and went down the platform for a walk. The sheep retreated back above the cloud line with a jaundiced air. They didn’t bother to answer his question, because he’d insulted their intellects.

‘Once this place was full of people!’ he protested to the ticket office. ‘I don’t understand it! Where’ve they all gone?’ The ticket office didn’t answer him. It didn’t ask to see his ticket either, which was quite a relief to Owain. He sprayed out the Welsh on a bilingual ‘No Parking’ sign, and left the station. But it was a small consolation for turning up at the town where you live, and finding there’s nobody in.

Owain went down the high street for a walk. Smith’s was deserted. So was Y Siop Lyfrau. He sat down on a stack of second hand Richard Llywellyn books, and cried. ‘But this is my home! Where’s my mam? Where’s my dog? Where are the holiday homes I tried to set fire to? Where’s the pretty girl in the post office where I used to cash my dole?’ Presently the Welsh Secretary turned up and took pity on him. ‘It’s no use crying, young man. You’re too late.’ But Owain made a point of ignoring him.

The Welsh Secretary sat down out of spitting range, and said: ‘Everyone left three weeks ago. The only company I’ve had since then has been the sheep.’ ‘I’ve already met the sheep,’ said Owain, deeply moved by the man’s misfortune. Mutual pity was overcoming the language barrier, which dissolved altogether when it was found they both spoke French. ‘Where did they go?’ Owain asked him.

‘They said it was sunnier in Patagonia,’ said the Secretary. ‘They were leaving Wales to the English, who’d ruined it anyway. The English were a bit insulted by that, so they said they weren’t sticking around either. They’re all in Patagonia together now.’ ‘I missed it,’ said Owain. ‘I’d gone to set fire to Number Ten. I betrayed my country.’ ‘Your country doesn’t need you now,’ said the Secretary.

Owain went off by himself for a while, and held a referendum on political links with Patagonia. The result of the referendum was favourable, for once, so Owain set off to the beach to look for something to cross the Atlantic in. When he arrived two days later, he was tired. He cast off in a dinghy and let it sail itself, while he sat asleep on the stern. The boat sailed round in circles all day, and all the sheep came down from the mountains and stood in a line on the shore, and laughed at him. Owain woke up, and wondered what all the sheep were looking at, and why he was so close to land. But they didn’t tell him, because he’d insulted their intellects, that the whole of Cardigan Bay had been dammed, to make electricity for Birmingham.

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, 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 hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing, and am former Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. In 2011 I was elected to membership of the Welsh Academy in recognition of my contributions to Welsh writing.

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.