It’s that time of year again! With Christmas nearing and 2023 drawing to a close, we take a look back at some of the best art and cultural offerings to come out of Wales this year. Today, we’re reflecting on the best Welsh fiction of 2023.
Across all genres, we have been treated to a great selection of new books by Welsh authors in 2023. Here are some of our top reads of the year:
Neon Roses by Rachel Dawson
A queer working-class love story, inspired by the film Pride, this coming-of-age novel is set in Wales and explores the history of the 1984 miners’ strikes, the impact of Thatcherism on working-class communities, as well as the role of the LGBTQ+ community in the protests.
Open Up is the new collection from Granta Best Young Novelist 2023, Thomas Morris. Fantasy worlds, real, allegorical, or other, converge and move through these various stories, and it is extremely difficult not to be swept up in them!
Having a dual nationality of both Cardiff-ian and Connecticut-ian influencing her writing, Burns’ The Same Country is a novel of violence, mystery, and romance, set during times of unrest in Connecticut; provoking much thought about the status of America today.
Vulcana is a fictional telling of the real story of Victorian ‘Kate Williams (born 1874 starting when she runs away from home at 16 to travel with the love her life, William Roberts. They perform in music halls as Atlas and Vulcana the climax of their act is that Kate can lift William over her head. She and William present themselves to the public as brother and sister as they travel the world because William is already married, and William’s wife brings up Kate’s children with her own. Kate is driven by love for William, for her children, for performing, and for life in this tale of a brave and unconventional woman.
Local Fires is Jones’ debut short story collection – and it has been well recieved, indeed. The collection weaves together the various adventures, misadventures, thoughts, feelings, actions, observations of the many characters in small town Llanelli, South Wales – where Jones was born. A beautiful portrait of a characterful town.
Painter Celia Paul’s Letters to Gwen John sets out a series of imagined correspondence with Gwen John, the artist who inspired her. Part memoir, part biography, part artist appreciation, part diary, in this novel, the women artists take center stage, and emerge with a vitality, complexity and determination to work, to think and to be.
Although intended for a young audience, The Sleeping Stones is an exciting and captivating read where an inviting fantasy worlds makes legends come alive on a modern stage. The novel combines the modern demographic of a 21st c Welsh community with a pseudo-arthurian legend, reminiscent of a traditional welsh folklore.
Set in a small mining village in pre-industrial revolution Wales, Of Talons and Teeth is …
Carly Holmes’ sensational second novel, Crow Face, Doll Face, is a dark, mesmerising tale about motherhood, family, and the self, beautifully shaped around internal and external worlds which are simultaneously sinister, chaotic, loving and loveless. Crow Face, Doll Face will hold onto your heart long after you’ve finished reading.
Edward’s debut novel, This Thing of Darkness, imaginatively re-imagines Wuthering Heights, depicting Heathcliff’s lost three years aged sixteen when he runs away from the only home he has ever known. An extremely compelling read of one of literature’s most intriguing characters. Definitely one to buy for the Wuthering Heights fanatic in your life – if you have one, of course.
Set in Toronto, 1970s, Parfitt’s Stray Dogs is a wild, tense, thrilling coming-of-age story, as its three road trippin’ characters navigate a stolen car, a trunk of faulty dictionaries, drugs, and (gasp!) gangs – all on the edge of seventeen.
Join us on December 22nd to find out Wales Arts Review’s fiction book of the year.