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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
20,000 prize for book winners
Owen Sheers
Owen Sheers wrote The Dust Diaries about his great great uncle
Two authors have won the prestigious Wales Book of the Year competition.

Owen Sheers won the English award for The Dust Diaries, and Caryl Lewis won the Welsh prize for Martha, Jac a Sianco (Martha, Jack and Sianco).

The winners of the award, who each took home 10,000, were announced in a ceremony in Cardiff on Tuesday.

This year's short-listed books were a mixture of novels and creative prose writing - three in the Welsh language and three in English.

Mr Sheers, who was born in Fiji but brought up in Abergavenny, published his first collection of poetry The Blue Book in 2000.

He wrote The Dust Diaries, which was short-listed for The Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2005, about his great great uncle.

"The Dust Diaries is essentially two stories running side by side, on the one hand it is the story of the life of my great great uncle," he said.

"He was a maverick missionary who went out to southern Rhodesia in 1900 originally for two years, but he ended staying there for the whole of his life."

Caryl Lewis, author of Martha Jac a Sianco
Caryl Lewis' book is set in rural Ceredigion

Mr Sheers went to Zimbabwe in 1999 for five months to research his great great uncle's life and his own personal journey is the parallel story.

To win the award, Mr Sheers beat Trezza Azzopardi and her book The Hiding Place and Richard Collins with his first novel, called The Land as Viewed from the Sea.


In Welsh, Ms Lewis' second novel Martha, Jac a Sianco describes the lives of two brothers and a sister living in a rural part of Ceredigion.

Ms Lewis, who is from Dihewyd near Aberaeron, said: "I'm totally surprised, I came here to enjoy the occasion and it was a shock (to win)".

"I enjoy writing ...and it's great to be given a prize. I believe that writing is something you work on during your life and I hope I'll enjoy a long career."

The Welsh language shortlist also included Rhwng y Nefoedd a Las Vegas (Between the Heavens and Las Vegas) by Elin Llwyd Morgan and Hi yw fy Ffrind (She is my Friend) by Bethan Gwanas.

The adjudicating panels were chaired by former winner Charlotte Williams and Meg Elis and the judges included Tony Brown, Patrick Hannan, Tony Bianchi and Hafina Clwyd.

The shortlist for the Welsh Book of the Year award, which started in 1992, is funded by the Arts Council of Wales.

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