Exciting news today as it’s time to reveal the shortlist for this years Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2022……





 From Sri Lanka to Texas, and Ireland via the Middle East, this year’s shortlist features a powerful, international collection of writers who are offering platforms for under-represented voices.

Comprising four novels, one poetry collection, and one short story collection, the shortlist also includes three debuts:

·       A Passage North – Anuk Arudpragasam (Sri Lankan, Novel)

·       Auguries of a Minor God – Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe (Indian, Poetry Debut)

·       The Sweetness of Water – Nathan Harris (American, Debut Novel)

·       No One is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood (American, Novel)

·       Open Water – Caleb Azumah Nelson (British-Ghanaian, Debut Novel)

·       Filthy Animals – Brandon Taylor (American, Collection of Short Stories)

The debuts on this year’s shortlist includeIndian-born Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe whose first poetry collection Auguries of a Minor Godfollows two different journeys, the first of love and the wounds it makes and the second following a family of refugees who have fled to the West from conflict in an unspecified Middle Eastern country; the contemporary classic The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris who fuses together historical fiction with the complex reality of today’s society; and the achingly beautiful love story Open Water (now sold in 13 territories worldwide) by 25-year-old British-Ghanaian writer Caleb Azumah Nelson who shines a light on race and masculinity.

Also amongst the contenders for this prestigious £20,000 prize are: American novelist and international bestseller Patricia Lockwood for No One is Talking About This, hermeditation on love, language and human connection which was also shortlisted for The Booker Prize; Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasam for his masterful novel, A Passage North, also shortlisted for The Booker Prize which explores age and youth, as well as loss and survival in the wake of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war; and Brandon Taylor’sFilthy Animals that brings together quietly devastating stories of young people caught up in violence and desire, while longing for intimacy.

The six strong shortlist was selected by a judging panel chaired by co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and award-winning author Namita Gokhale, alongside an impressive panel of judges including Welsh novelist, playwright, and winner of the 2006 Dylan Thomas Prize Rachel Trezise; celebratedpoet and novelist Luke Kennard,winner of the 2021 Forward poetry prize; novelist and Swansea University lecturer Alan Bilton; and Nigerian-British author Irenosen Okojie who was awarded an MBE For Services to Literature in 2021.

The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.

Namita Gokhale, Chair of Judges, said: “The longlist for the 2022 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize was one of the strongest ever. The jury has whittled this down to a shortlist that is riveting and compelling on so many levels. It presents a rich diversity of accomplished young and debut voices, and their explorations of the poetic, the historical, and the contemporary.”

The Winner’s Ceremony will be held in Swansea on 12th May, two days before International Dylan Thomas Day.


#BlogTour WOMEN AND LOVE by MIRIAM BURKE #BookReview @renardpress

Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous WOMEN AND LOVE by MIRIAM BURKE.

My thanks to the author and publisher, Renard Press, for letting me be part of it all!


Women and Love by Miriam Burke

ISBN: 9781913724818

Paperback • 224pp • £10

23rd February 2022

‘I couldn’t sleep that night; our conversation was like a trapped bird flying around inside my head. The next morning, I texted to say I wouldn’t be coming back. I lied about having to return to my country to nurse a sick relative. I couldn’t bear to see my story mirrored in his eyes, and to see what we never had. I knew he’d understand.’ 

Women and Love is a thought-provoking collection of seventeen tightly woven tales about the power of love, all its trials and complications, and the shattered lives it can leave in its wake. 

The stories explore a huge variety of sorts of love surrounding women in wildly differing settings, and features an unforgettable cast including GPs, burglars, inmates, emigrant cleaners, carers, young professionals, and many more. Navigating heavy themes, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, including gender dysphoria and searching for a sperm donor, the stories leave the reader burning with indignation, full of empathy and wonder.

A writer from the west of Ireland, Miriam Burke’s short stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals, including The Manchester Review, Litro Magazine, Fairlight Shorts, The Honest Ulsterman, Bookanista and Writers’ Forum. She has a PhD in Psychology, and before becoming a writer she worked for many years as a Clinical Psychologist in London hospitals and GP practices. Women and Love is her debut collection.

Resource links:

Author reading on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cxS6jL_kC4

Author’s website: https://miriamburkeauthor.com

Purchase links:

Renard Press: https://renardpress.com/books/women-and-love/


Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/women-and-love/9781913724818Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781913724818


This is the kind of short story collection I love!  Miriam has put together a brilliantly fresh feeling to these 17 short stories, each with a snappy feel and showing love in all its’ forms – be it male, female, straight, gay, family, children.. it’s not afraid to show the good, the bad, the highs and the lows!

I found the book to have a great flow from start to finish.  Each story had a different viewpoint and I loved how the changing focus kept things zipping along – from a cleaner watching the dynamics of families she works for whilst carrying her own pain, to the divorced couple chatting over a coffee as to what changed between them, to the lesbian couple talking over having children together, and the friends reuniting at a funeral and discussing how their lives had changed.  

This really is a short story collection that has something for everyone and I found it compelling just how much you could glean from the brief glimpses of the characters as they reflected on a situation, and I think that’s what made it so relatable and interesting as a reader.  It involves day to day scenarios and shows the impact of decisions on people around them whether for better or worse.  Just the way life goes!It also does a great job of showing the irrationality of love – how it can make you overthink a situation, cloud your judgement, repeat the failings you despise in others…. humans are just really weird and make no sense at times aren’t we?!

I cannot wait to read more from this author and this is a short story collection I cannot recommend highly enough!! Go grab a copy!!




Christmas is around the corner…so too are all manner of spooky apparitions at the Essex Witch Museum

Feisty Rosie Strange can’t seem to catch a break. The past always seems to come knocking in Adders Fork, forcing her and partner Sam Stone to investigate. In this collection of twelve short stories, Rosie and Sam are seen to do battle with all manner of creepy ghosts.

Published by  Point Blank Books





Author Website


A short story collection full of the frightening and the fun and I loved the variety of the stories included as they seemed to be a little bit of everything, which was perfect for dipping into on a dark evening – even if it meant I had some rather peculiar dreams/nightmares afterwards!!

Linked to the Essex Witch Museum series – of which I still have a couple to catch up with – this collection is a mix of the weird and wonderful, the dark and twisted and all set in a variety of locations and featuring a range of different characters! It’s not full on horror and gore, but often the more subtle sides to the supernatural, which can often be the most unsettling!

My favourites were In The Bag – a possessed hoover anyone?!!!! – and The House on Savage Lane which was the darkest tale for me and quite terrifying! There are ghostly goings on galore, evil cats and the Reaper and I just really enjoyed the different mix of stories and it’s just made me even more eager to revisit the Essex Witch Museum series in full – bring on even more weird nightmares for me!!


#BookReview The Darkness of Wallis Simpson by Rose Tremain

About the book

Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American woman for whom Edward Vlll abdicated in 1936, ended her life as the prisoner of her lawyer who would not allow anyone – friend, foe or journalist – to visit her in her Paris flat. Rose Tremain takes this true story and transforms it into an imaginative and ironic fiction. Her thesis is that Wallis, gaga and bed-ridden, has forgotten the king who gave up an empire for love of her.

The other stories in this magnificent collection range over a variety of themes, equally original and unexpected. An East German border guard, redundant after the Berlin Wall comes down in 1989, imagines that he might still have a purpose in life: he tries to reach Russia by bicycling across the hostile wastes of Poland. A jilted man gets his revenge. A baby grows wings. A character in an Impressionist painting escapes from his ‘frame’ – or does he? And there’s a Christmas story set in a seedy hotel…

Over a million Rose Tremain books sold

‘A writer of exceptional talent … Tremain is a writer who understands every emotion’ Independent I

‘There are few writers out there with the dexterity or emotional intelligence to rival that of the great Rose Tremain’ Irish Times

‘Tremain has the painterly genius of an Old Master, and she uses it to stunning effect’ The Times

‘Rose Tremain is one of the very finest British novelists’ Salman Rushdie

‘Tremain is a writer of exemplary vision and particularity. The fictional world is rendered with extraordinary vividness’ Marcel Theroux, Guardian

Published by Vintage Books

Purchase Links



Book Depository


I found this book in a library sale and the title immediately intrigued me! It was only when I opened up the book that I found it’s a collection of short stories – the Wallis Simpson story is the first one and the longest at around 46 pages long and it sets the tone for this collection of weird, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes flat short stories.

Beginning with Wallis it’s a fascinating concept that she’s forgotten who she is and swears at people who called her Duchess. There were so many glimpses of what could have been a wonderful longer story of a woman struggling with identity and illness, but it just fell a little flat for me in that it tried to do too much in such a short space of time. I would have loved to have read more of this one and done without some of the other much shorter stories!

The others in the collection were a mixed bag of the often very weird, quite dark and some instantly forgettable! One of the more fascinating stories was one of the shortest – Death of an Advocate – of a character in a painting who is viewing over the scene that surrounds him and wondering why he’s cold and everyone on the picnic rug is seemingly oblivious to his concerns.

Moth was also another intriguing story – very dark and set in a trailer park and centred around Pete who lived there with her 2 children and was always known for her crafting. And then strange things start happening to one of her children. Very bizarre but very readable and slightly heartbreaking too!

I think the problem with a lot of short story collections is that some of the stories don’t always grab you and that can put you off reading more. But this collection has enough to keep you turning the pages, I loved the darkness of them (there is swearing in some of the stories so watch out if you’re offended easily!) but it did make for an interesting and imaginative reading experience!


Mini Reads Monday #2

I have returned!! With more little books full of big stories that you might be interested in reading if you only have a short amount of time – or a short attention span!!!  With many books nowadays part of a series, or huge doorsteps in size, it is always nice to find a fabulous story in a tiny package!! 

So I’ve rummaged through my bookshelves again and here’s a little look at some of my favourite ‘mini reads’!!

The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I am by Kjersti A. Skomsvold

This is a lovely but often heartbreaking read of a lonely old lady looking to make an impression in the world – even if it is a little too late and doesn’t seem to have the impact on Mathea that she desired.  Just 147 pages long.

Blue Dog by Louis de Bernieres

144 pages long and a beautiful story of a boy and his dog as they deal with tragedy in their life, and go and spend time with their grandfather in the outback.  

This creepy novella is only 110 pages long but that is all it needs to transport you to a dark place and a perfect little read for those dark autumnal evenings!!

Just 92 pages in this one, and it is a very simple story of a one way conversation between 2 people in a library!  A really interesting little book!

This is a very Zen book!  It is only 140 pages but is such a pleasant reading experience despite the fact that very little happens! It’s the story of a couple and a cat who visits them! Simplicity is often the best way!!

This was a beautiful little book inside and out! Just 128 pages tells the story of the lonely postman who occasionally opens up some of the letters he has to post to find out more about those he delivers to.  That does sound a little creepy, but he has a pure heart and his actions are done in innocence and I loved this from start to finish!

A recent addition to my bookshelves courtesy of MothBox Books, this is another 128 page book that tells the story of a family through the eyes of a young girl. All the struggles that entails with a hint of fairytales and some simple illustrations – they all combine to bring her story to life.

a short story collection over 192 pages, these stories are full of thoughtful observations in a manner of different settings and styles.

This light novella is the perfect summer read, set in the beautiful gardens near Florence.  
So a few more ‘littlies’ for you to consider if you are ever looking to bump up your reading total, or just to escape for an evening!! Any catch your eye?!  Any to recommend to me?!  Hope you’ve enjoyed browsing the smaller side of my bookshelves!!

An account of the decline of the great auk, according to one who saw it by Jessie Greengrass – Book Review


The twelve stories in this startling collection range over centuries and across the world.

There are stories about those who are lonely, or estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect, but also of penance.

Some stories concern themselves with the present, and the mundane circumstances in which people find themselves: a woman who feels stuck in her life imagines herself in different jobs – as a lighthouse keeper in Wales, or as a guard against polar bears in a research station in the Arctic.

Some stories concern themselves with the past: a sixteenth-century alchemist and doctor, whose arrogance blinds him to people’s dissatisfaction with their lives until he experiences it himself.

Finally, in the title story, a sailor gives his account – violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic – of the decline of the Great Auk.

Publication Date March 23rd 2017

Amazon UK


Jessie Greengrass was born in 1982. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and London, where she now lives with her partner. She is a founder member of the Brautigan Free Press, and has appeared on London Fields Radio’s Page One talking about the work of Dorothy L Sayers. She has a great love for detective stories, and knows who the murderer is in almost every novel Agatha Christie ever wrote.


I have often found with short story collections that they all leave me feeling a little cold and wondering what the point of them was – there was none of that after reading this astonishing collection from Jessie Greengrass!

There are 12 stories contained and I only found 2 of them a little harder to get along with, but the others were such high quality and beautifully written that I often found myself nodding in agreement with sentiments, situations and messages gleaned from each story.

They are set in a variety of locations and bring up a number of subjects such as loneliness, grief, nature, childhoods, relationships – and I found that they made me think in different ways about the way I look at things.

The ones I struggled with were the ones about Theophrastus and Knut as I really didn’t ‘get’ them but I will be re-reading them in the hope that maybe in a different frame of mind all will become clear!   This is definitely a short story collection that I’ll be happy to dip in and out of again in the future!

Highly recommended!!

Thankyou to the publishers and BookBridgr for an ARC of this stunning book.