Greatest Welsh Novel

The Greatest Welsh Novel: A Resource

What is the Greatest Welsh Novel? In 2014, we tasked some of our best editors and contributors with nominating their favourite literary works from our country’s history – a difficult task indeed. A landscape and a population as diverse and beautifully complex as that of Wales has produced a library equally as captivating. This year we’re taking a look back at our list and reflecting on some of the best Welsh books ever written.

Far from the typical picture of Wales as a land solely comprised of male voice choirs, coal mines, and Dylan Thomas, this list aims to highlight the true breadth of the best Welsh literature. While classics like Raymond Williams’ Border Country and Emyr Humphreys’ A Toy Epic have earned their rightful places on this list, you’ll also find some more unexpected entries; Downriver by Iain Sinclair and Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle to name but a few.

Although the eventual winner, (announced at our 2014 Roundtable, with readings from the book by Siân Phillips) Caradog Prichard’s One Moonlit Night (Un Nos Una Leaud), was a worthy choice in the public vote, the series’ true aim was to celebrate Welsh literature as a whole, to help and have a say in the ongoing task of creating a cannon, a tradition, and to simply draw attention to the riches of our literary history.

Greatest Welsh Novel

A Toy Epic by Emyr Humphreys

Gary Raymond nominated Emyr Humphreys‘ 1958 classic A Toy Epic as the first in our search for the Greatest Welsh Novel, the story of three young boys growing up in Flintshire between the wars.

Tywll Heno by Kate Roberts

Francesca Rhydderch reviews Tywyll Heno by Kate Roberts as part of a Wales Arts Review series searching for the ‘Greatest Welsh Novel’. 

Submarine by Joe Dunthorne

Elin Williams extols the pleasures of submerging into the prose of Joe Dunthorne’s popular and film-adapted Welsh novel, Submarine..

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

In the anniversary month of Roald Dahl’s hundredth birthday, we take a look at Gary Raymond‘s review of Fantastic Mr Fox for our Greatest Welsh Novel series.

Shifts by Christopher Meredith

Continuing our quest to find the Greatest Welsh Novel, Dylan Moore nominates Shifts by Christopher Meredith

Un Nos Ola Leuad by Caradog Prichard

Jon Gower makes a strong case for why Un Nos Ola Leuad by Caradog Prichard makes it onto our list of the best Welsh books.

Awakening by Stevie Davies

John Lavin nominates the intense and poetic Awakening, Stevie Davies’ twelfth novel, for Wales Arts Reviews’ Greatest Welsh Novel.

In and Out of The Goldfish Bowl by Rachel Trezise

Next up in our Greatest Welsh Novel series, Emma Schofield espouses the qualities of a modern classic – Rachel Trezise‘s In and Out of The Goldfish Bowl.

The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi

Dylan Moore takes an affectionate look at Trezza Azzopardi‘s celebrated Welsh novel The Hiding Place.

The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis

Next up in our search for the Greatest Welsh Novel is John Lavin’s cheering review of The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis

Downriver by Iain Sinclair

Steven Hitchins puts forward his case for Downriver by Iain Sinclair as an unlikely candidate for the Greatest Welsh Novel.

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

As we continue our journey through Welsh literature, Phil Morris nominates the classic horror/fantasy novella The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen.

So Long, Hector Bebb by Ron Berry

Craig Austin recommends Ron Berry’s So Long, Hector Bebb as the next contender in our search to find the Greatest Welsh Novel.

The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price

Continuing in our search for the Greatest Welsh Novel, Jim Morphy extols the virtues of The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price (Translated by Lloyd Jones).

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Gary Raymond offers his take on The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters as part of our series highlighting the best Welsh literary talents.

The Genre of Silence by Duncan Bush

Robert Minhinnick explains why he’s casting his vote for The Genre of Silence by Duncan Bush as the Greatest Welsh Novel.

Howls’ Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Penny Thomas loses herself in the mysterious wonders of Diana Wynne Jones’ Howls’ Moving Castle, another unconventional nomination for the Greatest Welsh Novel.

Gold by Dan Rhodes

Jamie Woods defends his controversial choice of Gold by Dan Rhodes as the Greatest Welsh Novel.

Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds

Charlotte Rogers nominates Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds as one of her favourite pieces of Welsh literature, adding a piece of Science Fiction to our diverse list.

Cwmardy and We Live by Lewis Jones

Jon Gower revels in the filmic qualities of Cwmardy and We Live, two novels by Lewis Jones, as part of our Greatest Welsh Novel series.

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

Continuing the exploration of our country’s best novels, Gary Raymond argues for the classic On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin.

The Withered Root by Rhys Davies

Continuing in our search for the Greatest Welsh Novel, Dylan Moore nominates Rhys Davies’ ‘quintessentially Welsh’ novel The Withered Root.

Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve by Dannie Abse

Phil Morris recalls his thoughts on Dannie Abse’s Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve as the next contender in our quest to find the Greatest Welsh Novel.

The Valley, The City, The Village by Glyn Jones

Jon Gower nominates Glyn Jones’ The Valley, The City, The Village as the next entrant in our series to find the Greatest Welsh Novel.

Border Country by Raymond Williams

Dai Smith offers a convincing account of why he believes Raymond Williams’ Border Country should be crowned the Greatest Welsh Novel.



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