Book of the Year

Dr Matthew Francis

Dr Matthew Francis

15 May 2013

A collection of short stories by Dr Matthew Francis from the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University has been shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2013.

Singing a Man to Death is one of three volumes to feature on the Fiction Short List. The others are The Testimony by James Smythe and A Girl’s Arm by Gee Williams.

Over 100 eligible English language books were submitted for the 2013 Award with 9 volumes shortlisted, three in each of three categories - Roland Mathias Poetry Prize; Fiction; Creative Non-Fiction.

Published by Cinnamon Press, Singing a Man to Death is a collection of short stories, notable for its range, sophistication, and readability.

The fictions cover a range of milieus from England to Pacific islands to semi-mythical territories; ages from the contemporary to early medieval; and a range of ‘realisms’ from the naturalistic to the supernatural to magic realism.

Dr Francis is delighted at the shortlisting. “The short story is a sometimes underrated genre,” he said. “I have a passion for it, which I try to pass on to my creative writing students.”

“I am also very happy for Cinnamon,” he added. “They have done a huge amount for literature in Wales, and this has once again been recognised.”

Another Cinnamon publication, I Spy Pinhole Eye by Philip Gross, received the Wales Book of the Year Award in 2010.

Dr Francis is Reader in Creative Writing in the Department of English and Creative Writing. An acclaimed poet, his latest collection of poems, Muscovy, has just been published by Faber and Faber, and has received outstanding reviews.

The Guardian wrote: "These tales of the unexpected are a treat, melding modernist tricks of the light with the phosphoric glow of 'the long night called / the nineteenth century', full of suspense and charisma."

According to The Sunday Telegraph: ”Ghosts and lonely spirits haunt these pages but wordplay creates a sense of fun that increases the pleasure.

His other collections of poetry are:
Mandeville (Faber, 2008) – “Mesmerising - an extraordinary achievement” (The Observer); Whereabouts (Rufus Books, 2005) – “Superb” (The Guardian); Dragons (Faber, 2001) – shortlisted for the Forward Prize and The Welsh Book of the Year Award; Blizzard (Faber, 1996) – shortlisted for the Forward Prize and winner of the Southern Arts Prize. He is also the author of a critical study: Where the People Are: Language and Community in the Poetry of W.S. Graham (Salt, 2004) and a novel WHOM (Bloomsbury, 1989), and editor of W.S. Graham’s New Collected Poems (Faber, 2004).

He is currently working on a novel set in Wales and London in the seventeenth century, as well as a new collection of poems.

The Wales Book of the Year 2013
The English-language books for this year’s Wales Book of the Year Award were judged by writer and business consultant Ffion Hague, popular fantasy novelist Jasper Fforde, and lecturer and poet Richard Marggraf Turley.

The readers of Wales and beyond can also have their say on who should lift a Wales Book of the Year trophy by voting for their favourite English-language shortlisted book on the Wales Online website:

Each category winner will receive a prize of £2,000, and the two main winners in each language will receive an additional £6,000. The Wales Book of the Year Award winners, along with the People’s Choice Award winner will be announced at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on Thursday 18 July 2013.

The Wales Book of the Year 2013 Short List are as follows:

Roland Mathias Poetry Prize Short List:
Rhian Edwards, Clueless Dogs (Seren)
Deryn Rees-Jones, Burying of the Wren (Seren)
Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, Banjo (Picador)

Fiction Short List:
James Smythe, The Testimony (Blue Door)
Gee Williams, A Girl’s Arm (Salt Publishing)
Matthew Francis, Singing a Man to Death (Cinnamon Press)

Creative Non-Fiction Short List:
John Harrison, Forgotten Footprints (Parthian)
Jon Gower, Wales at Water’s Edge (Gwasg Gomer)
Meic Stephens, Welsh Lives (Y Lolfa)

Wales Book of the Year Award