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Former Welsh Government minister wins prize at National Eisteddfod for debut novel

08 Aug 2023 4 minute read
AlunFfred – winner of the Daniel Owen Memorial Prize for best novel at the National Eisteddfod

A former Welsh Government minister is the winner of this year’s Daniel Owen Memorial Prize, presented at a special ceremony on the Pafiliwn Mawr stage at the National Eisteddfod.

Alun Ffred Jones’ detective novel Gwynt y Dwyrain (An Easy Wind) was described by the adjudicators as an “extremely readable detective novel” and “Welsh Noir at its best and most original”.

It is his first novel although he is a well known for his script writing and was one of the creators of the classic S4C comedy programme, C’Mon Midffild.

Born in Brynaman, Carmarthenshire Alun Ffred grew up in Llanuwchllyn near Bala, Gwynedd and now lives in Dyffryn Nantlle near Caernarfon. He had a varied career as a teacher in Flintshire, TV presenter and producer and Member for Arfon and Minister for Heritage in the National Assembly. He was also a councillor and the Leader of Cyngor Gwynedd.

Strong storyline

Authors were invited to create a novel with a strong storyline of no less than 50,000 words. The prize is the Daniel Owen Memorial Medal and £5,000 donated by Williams Homes and Grŵp Cynefin.

The adjudicators were Mared Lewis, Dewi Prysor a Sioned Wiliam, and delivering the adjudication from the stage, Sioned Wiliam said: “It’s been a great honour to read and discuss these novels, in a competition celebrating the life of Daniel Owen, the father of the Welsh novel, who created some of the most memorable and lively stories in our language.

“There were ten entries this year and I’m pleased to say there was plenty to enjoy in all of them. Each novelist had something very different to offer and Mared and Dewi and I had great pleasure discussing their work.

“Gwynt y Dwyrain is an extremely readable detective novel that manages to create an intense atmosphere without being too dependent on stereotypes. It discusses major themes, the decline of the Welsh way of life, the alienation and isolation of the countryside and the grief that often lurks beneath the surface of society.

“The dialogue is witty and full of memorable phrases. The author succeeds in creating a rich picture of a character or scene in subtle sentences.

“This is Welsh Noir at its best and most original. This is an excellent novel that entertains whilst asking important questions about our contemporary life

“I’m delighted to announce the three of us are unanimous in our decision that Gwynt y Dwyrain by Gerddi Gleision fully deserves the 2023 Daniel Owen Memorial Prize.”

‘Tramp tea’

Writing under the nom de plume of Gerddi Gleision the novel tells the story of Detective Idwal Davies who likes to quote T H Parry-Williams and can name every one of Eryri’s mountains. He’s just as happy drinking ‘tramp tea’ on a council house estate.

Idwal sees the evil at work in the world too clearly to be a happy man but he has a huge love for his upbringing and the tenacity that sustains him on a daily basis skilfully pushes him towards the poignant end.”

Alun Ffred became interested in the world of theatre from his days performing with the Aelwyd in Llanuwchllyn, at Ysgol y Berwyn, Bala and the University in Bangor.

He and the late Mei Jones created the radio and television series, C’mon Midffild, and he wrote the popular book, Rhagor o Hanesion C’mon Midffild. He also produced and directed series on S4C such as Deryn, Pengelli and Talcen Caled and films such as Cylch Gwaed and Plant y Tonnau.

He played an active role in his local area, as chair of the Antur Nantlle community initiative and Nantlle Vale Football Club before stepping back and he currently chairs the charity Sistema Cymru – Codi’r To, which uses music to raise the confidence and skills of children in two disadvantaged areas.

After retiring, he lists his interests as being lazy, reading, cycling, sports and the theatre – in that order.

Gwynt y Dwyrain will be available to buy at all bookshops on the Maes and across Wales immediately following the ceremony.

The Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau includes the full adjudication for this competition and the winners of all the other composition winners at this year’s Eisteddfod.

The volume is published at the end of the Chairing Ceremony on Friday afternoon.


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Emrys Jones
Emrys Jones
8 months ago

‘Gwynt o’r Dwyrain’ is ‘An East Wind’ not an easy wind.

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