Page last updated at 19:34 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 20:34 UK

Story collection wins book prize

Deborah Kay Davies
Writer Deborah Kay Davies beat two other women finalists to the prize

A debut collection of short stories has won its author the Wales Book of the Year 2009 accolade.

Deborah Kay Davies beat poet Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch and writer Gee Williams to the £10,000 prize with her book Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful.

The judges called Ms Davies' stories of two sisters set in the south Wales valleys "an amazing piece of work".

William Owen Roberts won the Welsh language award for his novel Petrograd, set in the Russian revolution.

The announcements were made at a gala dinner at St David's Hotel and Spa in Cardiff Bay on Monday night.

Set in the eastern south Wales valleys from 1970 to the present day, Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful tells the story of two sisters, Grace and Tamar, their volatile childhood, disruptive coming of age and lifelong sibling rivalry.

Each story is complete in its own right but also forms part of a continuous sequence.

The judges felt that they all deserve to be much more widely read both in Wales and beyond
Mike Parker, judge

Ms Davies, who lives in Pontypool, Torfaen, has previously had a poetry collection published and has won the Rhys Davies short story collection three times.

Travel writer and broadcaster Mike Parker, who was chair of the judging panel, described all three writers shortlisted for the award as "outstanding contenders".

"The judges felt that they all deserve to be much more widely read both in Wales and beyond," he said.

"Deborah Kay Davies's collection of stories is an amazing piece of work, a timeless and universal reflection of the ever-perplexing world of human relationships."

Peter Finch, chief executive of Academi, the body which administers the award, said it was difficult to decide between poetry and prose of such quality.

"This year's judges have inevitably made their choice with difficulty. The overall winner, however, is an absolute champion," he said.

Nick Capaldi, chief executive of the Arts Council of Wales which funds the award, said this year's entries had not only demonstrated the strength and vibrancy of Welsh writing but had set a "remarkably high standard".

"In spite of this, the compelling nature of Deborah Kay Davies's writing has given us an exciting and worthy winner," he said.

Ms Davies, Ms Wynne-Rhydderch and Ms Williams were selected for the shortlist from a long list of 10.

The judges for the English-language award were poet, critic and lecturer at the University of Wales, Tiffany Atkinson, poet and essayist John Barnie and broadcaster and Mr Parker.

Bangor-born William Owen Roberts, who received £10,000, for the Welsh language award, also won the Welsh language readers' prize, sponsored by ITV Cymru.

The Media Wales Readers' Award, which was introduced this year and is also voted for by the public, went to Stephen May for TAG.

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