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Catherine Phelps reviews | Dream On | Dai Smith

The work was certainly singular in each individual style but it hung together, more like a collective emotion than a group.[...] Th e work was a counterclaim against what had been stolen, what had been hidden away, or mislaid, or forgotten, or neglected and abused.

So muses Billy Maddox, one of the many narrative voices of Dai Smith’s Dream On, as he looks at an art exhibition in a regenerated valley town. Similarly, this intriguing novel also interweaves the individual stories and voices of the south Wales Valleys, stories from the past and present that only occasionally entwine yet all hang together to tell its communal history. Do not be fooled by the book-jacket’s claims that this is a noir thriller – of all the narratives, only one, Billy Maddox’s tale, resembles anything like noir – the novel itself is much more complex in terms of genre. One could argue that this is Dai Smith’s counterclaim for a valley’s culture.

Huw Lawrence reviews | Breision | Jon Gower

This many-sided author’s first short-story collection is as tongue-in-cheek, strange and amusing as Y Storïwr, the novel that won him the Welsh Book of the Year prize in 2013.

Outlining a typical story will suggest the kind of excursion a reader can expect.

In ‘Cariad Fel Afon’, Richie Ford is blinded by the beauty of a girl in a disco. His sight is partially restored by specialists who are mysteriously able to tell him that the girl’s name is Héllène. Richie will search for her ‘till the Black mountains turn to dust under his feet’. He attends discos everywhere, his partially-sighted eyes protected by a welder’s mask (which begins a new disco fashion for industrial clothing). Finally he sees her, ‘shining like the morning dew’, and tells her his story in words touchingly colloquial. The music fades. The dancers freeze ‘like a tableau at Madam Tussauds’ and bleat as one: ‘It’s true.’ (straight out of Gilbert and Sullivan). ‘You’d better buy me a drink then,’ says Héllène. The two gaze into each other’s eyes until the chairs are being stacked, and then arrange to meet for a meal...

Bethan Coombs reviews
The Tip of My Tongue | Trezza Azzopardi
Fountainville | Toshi Dishani

From the title to the final page, Trezza Azzopardi’s The Tip of my Tongue, part of Seren’s ‘New Stories from the Mabinogion’, evocatively engages with a theme that cuts through not only the source tale of The Mabinogion’s ‘Geraint Son of Erbin’ but also through a wider body of writing which reworks older traditions. The silencing of the ‘other,’ of the disenfranchised, is central to the functions of many myth tales, and as a result becomes a primary target for writers who wish to uncover, recover and reclaim silenced voices. The Mabinogion, however, does not provide such a clear-cut dichotomy between the powerful and powerless, the narrator and the narrated. Just as the Island of Britain is a space where magic and the mundane coexist, so too is language an unpredictable complex of power. Azzopardi’s character Enid embodies the tensions between who is allowed to speak and who is not.

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