Posted 20 hours ago

Drift: Winner of the Wales Book of the Year

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Drift centres on the relationship between a Syrian man and a being who we first perceive as a Welsh woman. The publishing world goes in and out with the tide of trends, and the literary sphere often positions style above substance – implied surrealism favoured over the explicitly stated, and arguably harder to pull off, creations of magical realism. Llew Jones, who is the king of Welsh literature for children, he wrote many, many books about pirates and that area – Twm Siôn Cati (the ‘Welsh Robin Hood’), Barti Ddu (Black Bart), all these wonderful stories, I’m sure there’l be some in translation – and it’s a beautiful place.

In earlier years I used to paint a lot, and I sold a few of my paintings, and I would love to get back into that too, but at the moment I haven’t got any creativity left after I’ve been writing all day. When she pulls the body of a military prisoner from the sea, she doesn't think twice about helping him. This is Caryl Lewis’ first novel in English, presumably her second language after Welsh, but there is nom accidental clunkiness in her prose.

Billed as a revelatory bike ride through Europe and the Middle East, Lowe’s adventure from London to Tehran is not a typical tale of endurance. She enjoys keeping bees and silversmithing and lives with an assortment of animals, children and farmers on a hill farm near Aberystwyth in Wales. To walk with a man who tries not to forget his roots, a brother whose shoulders have been carrying a heavy burden, a wife who protects the children entrusted to her and her husband who struggles to meet his end with dignity.

Joseph leaves her for weeks at a time, to work the boats further up the coast and bring in a meagre income they can live by. Joseph is deeply conflicted, and he has somehow conflated preservation with protecting and stifling, he can’t see the difference. It is impossible not to be drawn into the writing, which contains so much atmosphere that it fills your imagination long after you've finished it. There are scrapes and difficulties, but these escapades are less about Lowe and more about the kindness of others, encouraged by the disarming quality of “the machine which makes us all brothers and sisters”. But more importantly, this is the story of a woman who refuses to obey and the ‘’Other’’ who refuses to comply.Hamza has been illegally held prisoner by the British military, caught between their covert meddling and repressive Syrian regime. And I think it’s significant that the parts of Wales that speak the Welsh language also voted to stay in Europe.

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