Last time I decided to go to Welsh Academy's Wrexham Library launch of the long list for the Wales Book of the Year Award, it was called off at the last minute due to snow, and yesterday I thought I might not make again it because of the gales, but luckily the winds died down during the afternoon. I especially wanted to go this time because I had an exciting hunch that my fellow Salt author, Carys Davies, was on the long list (I'm psychic, right? No, actually, I just picked up some clues and put them together) and sure enough she had, and had made it there too (in a roundabout way, due to the closure of the Thelwall viaduct)!
The three judges for the English Language prize were represented at Wrexham by writer and broadcaster Mavis Nicholson. Introducing their long list, she said that they'd had 200 books to consider (which is more than the Booker judges have to contend with). Like former Booker judges who have commented recently, she said that with such a large number the job was very onerous, and constantly going from one book to a very different other made it difficult to be sure to give each book the right kind of attention. She suggested, therefore, that in future, particularly in view of the fact that so many of the books had been 'fluffy', the organizers operated some kind of filtering system before handing over to the judges. She said also that the judges had been very struck by the poor editing of books nowadays and that it was very clear that many books are now hardly edited at all.
Then she announced the ten long-listed books, five of which come from small presses:
Winterton Blue - Trezza Azzopardi (Picador)
Hector's Talent - Kitti Harri (Honno)
Don't Cry for Me Aberystwyth - (Bloomsbury)
The Claude Glass - Tom Bullough (Sort Of Books)
Blue Sky July - Nia Wyn (Seren)
Trouble in Heaven (Gomer)
Some New Ambush - Carys Davies (Salt)
The Presence - Dannie Abse (Hutchinson)
The Master Bedroom - Tessa Hadley (Cape)
Congratulations to all of them and especially (since I know her) to Carys!
Mavis Nicholson happened to be leaving for the car park at the same time as John and me. She said her husband would be turning in his grave if he thought she'd judged a competition, since he didn't believe in them. I said, Well, I don't really, and I told her that I'm always going on about it on my other blog, but then when someone you know wins one, well you can't help but be very pleased indeed!