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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Welsh books award list announced
Ifor Thomas, with Kitty Sewell (centre) and Manon Rhys
Ifor Thomas and Kitty Sewell (centre), two of the shortlist
The shortlists for the UK's only bilingual literary prize have been announced at the Hay Festival.

Two poets have made the English language shortlist this year with Robert Minhinnick's To Babel and Back, and Body Beautiful by Ifor Thomas.

The novel Ice Trap, by agony aunt and author Kitty Sewell, is also on the English list.

The Wales Book of the Year award offers two 10,000 prizes for an English language and a Welsh-language book.

On the Welsh-language shortlist are Gwynfor Rhag Pob Brad by Rhys Evans, Llen Yr Uchelwyr by Dafydd Johnston and Rara Avis by Manon Rhys.

Thomas's book Body Beautiful is a collection of poetry born of his own experience of prostate cancer.

The body can take a lot of cutting about and hammering and survive - it's not an ironic title
Ifor Evans on his book Body Beautiful

"Getting cancer was a real gift," he said. "It's a personal diary of getting diagnosed with cancer, and treatment and recovery. It might act as a self-help manual for men out there."

Thomas said he had opted for treatment with local anaesthetic: "It wasn't being brave, I wanted to observe the process which I could write down."

He said it was a tribute to the body's complexity and ability to recover.

"The body can take a lot of cutting about and hammering and survive - it's not an ironic title."

Swedish-born Sewell was shortlisted for her first novel Ice Trap, influenced by two years spent in northern Canada.

'Political writing'

She already has a publishing deal in 10 countries.

The author said: "It's set in a very small town on the Alaskan highway with 4,000 people and nothing for 400 miles either side.

You learn a lot about people and yourself. I was running away from something and everyone I knew was running from something."

Minhinnick, editor of Poetry Wales, said To Babel and Back - a prose work - was "political writing through imagery, a book about uranium but not preachy - I hope it's a funny book".

Although taking in Latin America and Iraq, a third of the book was set in his home of 28 years, Porthcawl.

"I don't see there's anything special about travelling," he said.

"Everyone travels. What's important is that the writers, when they stop at home, write about what they know."

The winners will be announced on 11 July at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff.


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