Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Llongyfarchiadau, Siân

I'm the sort of person who likes to name drop. If a friend of mine has done anything of note, you will almost certainly hear about it from me. The people we keep as friends are in some way an extension of ourselves -- a personification of the things we value and the things we aspire to. So, I take a kind of personal joy in talking about friends' accomplishments; some tiny part of me likes to believe that it somehow reflects back on me as a person for having them as a friend, and them having me as a friend.

If you've heard me speak about literature in Wales, you've almost certainly heard me name check Siân Melangell Dafydd, winner of the Prose Medal at the 2009 Eisteddfod. I find I have a bad habit of saying her full name, so people will know exactly who I'm talking about, as well as always being sure to work in the fact that she is my friend. So, I'll do this sort of thing:

"That's an interesting point you've made. You know, my friend and respected litterateur Siân Melangell Dafydd said recently..."

"Well, something that Siân Melangell Dafydd and I were discussing yesterday while lying naked in bed was..."

OK, I might be embellishing on that last one. But you get the point: I like to brag about my friends. So, even though I am bitter and grumpy (a) at not having myself been included on this year's long list for the Welsh Book of the Year, I am delighted to see that Siân's book Y Trydydd Peth is there

Congratulations, Siân. You are awesomeness.

The thing I like about Siân's writing -- and, indeed, her as a person -- is that she has a kind of comprehension of beauty that goes beyond the simple ability to identify it. Most of us can spot beauty in the world around us. I would like to think that I have a certain knack for identifying the strangely beautiful -- the delight of bus exhaust on a sunny morning, cackling fat ladies in town centres, etc. But Siân seems to have an understanding of that beauty.

In a phone conversation with her Tuesday, I compared the difference to the old Where's Wally? books (known as Where's Waldo? for those of you playing along at home). With some searching, I can find Wally, but what do I really know about him? What do I know of Wally the man? What drives him? What attracts him to crowds and why does he seek to get lost in them? Siân seems able to get at the answers to these questions.

"Of course," she said. "I know the man intimately. He's my toy boy."
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(a) Also, what's up with neither Lloyd Jones nor Jon Gower being on that list? That is bullshit, yo. Jones' Y Dŵr was easily the most complete Welsh novel to be published last year and certainly one of the best written.

1 comment:

Leroy said...

I loved your book. It took me about a year to read because my Welsh is poor, but I did finish it and thought that it was great. I shall set aside this year for Y Trydydd Peth and maybe ear mark 2012 for Y Dwr. Thanks for the tip!