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Wales Book of the Year shortlist review: Raffl a Storiau Eraill by Aled Jones Williams

02 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Raffl by Aled Jones Williams is published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

Ant Evans

Having published Tynnu, another volume of short stories in 2021, Aled Jones Williams is back with Raffl a Storiau Eraill (Raffle and Other Stories).

In this collection’s foreword, the author discusses Tynnu, how that volume came about and how the short story is a better fit to his literary nature.

Here are more short stories, like many of those in Tynnu, which, the author tells us, aren’t conventional, noting that he’s not a fan of realism. He tells the reader that the stories included here involve lives ‘coming undone’ a quote which he borrows from the Observer, (30/01/2022).

Things that were important to the author, he opines, are coming to an end. He can’t wait to see the back of other things, however. These stories then, originate from a sense that things are falling apart. The reader is informed that the author is not, nor has he ever been, an optimistic writer. These stories don’t occur within a dystopian setting; everyday life is what’s portrayed.

The initial Raffl story begins with the kind of everyday conversation many of us will have either had, or overheard. A chat between two friends, Morwen Mason and Bev ‘Honey’ Parry. Morwen stating that she never wins anything, with Bev telling her of course she doesn’t, as she never buys raffle tickets.

Except that on this occasion, having been persuaded to buy a raffle ticket by Selwyn ‘Sandles’ Evans, Morwen has actually won something. A tour of an Anglesey slaughterhouse. Not the sort of tour for the faint hearted, then!


Having been mentioned in passing during the initial story, the reader hears more from Selwyn ‘Sandals’ Evans from Raffl (2) onwards. What follows are a collection of stories with no end of raffle related drama! In Raffl (5) for instance, Selwyn accidentally draws two winning numbers. The dilemma of course being there was only the one prize that week! A

fter the Bowling Green Committee fail in their attempts to settle the dilemma amongst themselves, Selwyn offers to speak to both winners, namely Monica Taylor-Parry and Lydia Moffat, at their respective homes in an attempt to seek some kind of compromise. This plan doesn’t work either, as poor Selwyn finds himself getting punched in the face at Lydia Moffat’s address by Ernie Dic (presumably Lydia’s other half) as she tells him to sort it out.

The reader is left with the impression that punching Selwyn in the face was not the kind of sorting out Lydia had in mind, however. The decision is made to withhold the prize that week (we never find out what it was). As it turns out though, one of the two women (naming no names) wins the following week’s prize, without the drama of an extra number having also been drawn.

Everyday life

If there’s a common theme running through this collection of short stories, it would have to be, as the author tells us in the foreword, the depictions of everyday life.

For instance, during one of the Hona MacShane stories, she’s simply people watching, and the reader gets a list of the people she’s seen (some more than once) that day.

Another story centres around small talk at a supermarket checkout between Rhonabwy Highton and the staff member, with quite the unexpected closing remark. With the increasing ubiquitousness of self service checkouts, this reader wonders how long it’ll be before such small talk is consigned to history.

There’s also the act of buying a pair of shoes. Though the result of buying a particular pair certainly has an impact!


One aspect of these stories which stands out is the way that they all seem to take place in Caernarfon and the surrounding area. Consequently, there are instances of characters being mentioned or seen at various points by other characters. For example, when Hona MacShane is people watching, she sees Selwyn ‘Sandles’ Evans. Though she then thinks something which brings whether she saw him or not into question.


Do I have a favourite story in this collection? I must admit that the stories (yes, plural) which had the greatest impression on me were the Chwefror 11eg (February 11th) stories. From the foreword, where the author tells the reader how Tricsi Bevan came to him from the back street of his imagination following a cancer diagnosis, and how he is grateful to both Tricsi and her long time friend Maldwyn Paganussi for their help. As Tricsi makes a journey though a cancer diagnosis, treatment and life after treatment, with Maldwyn there every step of the way, I found it impossible to put this book down. What a way to round off this excellent collection of short stories.

Aled Jones Williams has, with Raffl a Storiau Eraill created quite the rollercoaster experience. The stories may be short, but there’s plenty to hold the reader’s attention from beginning to end. A must read!

Raffl a Storiau Eraill by Aled Jones Williams is published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch and is available from all good bookshops.

Vote for the Welsh language Wales Book of the Year 2024 People’s Choice Award. 

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