Elen Caldecott has been announced as the winner of this year’s English-language Tir na n-Og Award for her novel The Short Knife.
A powerful and exciting YA novel set during the early Middle Ages has won the English-language category of the prestigious Tir na n-Og Awards 2021.
Now in their 46th year, the annual Tir na n-Og Awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults in Wales. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by the librarians’ association CILIP Cymru Wales.
Following yesterday’s announcement of the Welsh-language Tir na n-Og Award winners, the English-language winner has tonight been revealed as Elen Caldecott for her novel, The Short Knife. The Short Knife was written as part of the author’s PhD in Creative Writing which explored the creative opportunities of bilingual writing. Caldecott will receive a £1,000 prize as well as a specially commissioned poem by Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Children’s Laureate) Gruffudd Owen.
Aimed at ages 12+, the story is set many centuries ago at a time when a new Welsh identity was just starting to emerge; when the Romans had left and the Britons and Saxons were battling to take hold of different territories. It is narrated through the voice of the main character, Mai, a young girl, who up until now, along with her sister Haf, has been kept safe by her father. The story starts with the arrival of Saxon warriors at their farm, forcing the family to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. From here we see Mai surviving in a dangerous world where just speaking her mother tongue could lead to her death, and where she comes to mistrust even the people she loves the most.
“I am over the moon that The Short Knife has won this award,” said Caldecott. “When you write about home, the reception the novel gets from the people who live there matters enormously. To have the book so championed and supported means the world. Thank you to everyone involved in the Tir na n-Og Awards!”
Jo Bowers, chair of the English-language Tir na n-Og judging panel, said: “Congratulations to The Short Knife by Elen Caldecott, an outstanding and original story with a strong female voice, a story with a twist that grips you right from the start. It is an eloquently written novel with lyrical language throughout, set in the early Middle Ages at an important time in Welsh history.”
Revealed yesterday during S4C’s Heno, the winner of the Welsh-language primary school age category was Casia Wiliam for her novel Sw Sara Mai (‘Sara Mai’s Zoo’). Rebecca Roberts won the Welsh-language secondary school age category with #helynt (‘#trouble’).
To read more about the winners of the Welsh-language categories, click here.
The Tir na n-Og Awards books are available through local bookshops and libraries.