Hay honours the best of Welsh

New talent featured prominently in the shortlist for the Welsh Book of the Year, which were awarded at the Hay Festival on Monday.

First novels by Owen Martell, Desmond Barry and Stephen Knight and a first collection of poetry by Owen Sheers were among the titles nominated by the Arts Council of Wales.

But it was Mr Martell’s Cadw dy Ffydd that won the Welsh language book award, while Mr Knight scooped the top prize in the English catagory for his book Mr Schnitzel.

Three English – and three Welsh-language books were selected for the prize, which awards £3,000 in each category.

Judges made the presentation at the literature festival in a ceremony open to the public.

The award is the only prize to recognise achievment in all categories of literature, including poetry, fiction, biography and literary criticism.

The ACW adjudicators comprised a panel of Welsh authors and historians, and deliberated over the most outstanding books of 2000.

There was also a strong international theme this year.

Merthyr author Desmond Barry’s The Chivalry of Crime is a vivid re-telling of the Jesse James story, Ohio native Jerry Hunter examines Welsh identity in Soffestri’r Saeson and Mihangel Morgan’s Cathod a Chwn is a witty collection from the Aberystwyth-based author who also straddles New York, Paris and Tokyo.

The Blue Book by Abergavenny-born Owen Sheers, presenter of BBC Wales arts magazine Double Yellow, was tipped for success as one of the most acclaimed first collections of poetry for many years.

All of the shortlisted authors received £1,000 in the ceremony, which took place on Monday afternoon.