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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 12:14 GMT
Rugby novel tops book poll
Reading books
Sex and rugby beat poetry and history in the poll
A book describing one man's odyssey through a weekend of drinking, rugby and women has been voted the best book to describe Wales.

Lewis Davies' Work, Sex and Rugby was named as the best Welsh work from a shortlist of ten put forward by the World Book Day campaign to encourage more reading.

The novel is seen as marking the emergence of a host of home-grown authors with a more urban, gritty view of Wales.

Davies, 35, was in his early 20s when he wrote Work, Sex and Rugby which follows the tale of a young man from the south Wales Valleys over a four-day weekend as he concentrates on his main interests in life, drinking, women and rugby.

He denies it is autobiographical but admits it has similarities with his life at the time and is aimed as shedding some light on contemporary Welsh life for young people.

Work, Sex and Rugby by Lewis Davies

He said: "I wrote it in 1992 - it was set in the life I had grown up in, to a certain extent.

"Certainly when I was 22, 23, I was playing for the local rugby team and going out too much at the weekends and working on a building site at the time.

"I was still playing rugby until last year - for Bryncoch - and not a huge lot has changed.

"It's about the concerns of life - it's just one individual's look at it.

"I think sometimes we're a bit hard on ourselves in Wales, about, certainly, the rugby.

"This is looking at small town life and some of the preoccupations that we have.

"A lot of young people are interested in work and sex and have hobbies outside work.

Davies' book was voted the best Welsh book

"They tend to put a lot of energy into sport - it could just as easily have been football for me, but it has to be a team sport."

Davies, whose novel has been re-printed twice and sold 6,000 copies since it was first published ten years ago, praised the other nominees on the shortlist.

"It shows that there's such a variety of Welsh writing at the moment - part of this World Book Day is to get people to read more contemporary Welsh literature."

Other shortlist contenders included Cardiff Dead by John Williams - a tale of the capital at the end of the 20th Century as parts of the city disappear in a flurry of development - and Sugar and Slate by Charlotte Williams, her memoir about being brought up in a mixed-race family in north Wales.

Two Rhondda writers - Richard John Evans and Rachel Tresize - made the list with their debut novels Entertainment and In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl.


Both books look at the seamier side of life in the post-industrial south Wales valleys, with hard drugs, violence and copious amounts of sex a big part of the mix.

Davies has gone on to found his own publishing company, Parthian Books, based in west Wales, which aims to promote contemporary Welsh literature, poetry and drama.

And his play, Sex and Power at the Beau Rivage, opens at Cardiff's Sherman Theatre later this month.

He said: "We're in the middle of a period when a lot of work is being produced and that's what you want in a literary culture, breadth and depth.

"With more books being published and more different voices, you don't have to read something by "a Scottish writer" you can read something by "a Welsh writer".

World Book Day is a joint initiative set up by publishers, booksellers and librarians.

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