A ‘ground-breaking novel’

Sunday 31st July 2022 7:30 am
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Pwll Fenws a’r Lleuad by Iwan Bala ()

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“A ground-breaking novel that makes for uncomfortable reading.”

That’s what one judge in the 2021 National Eisteddfod’s Prose Medal had to say about Tregaron author Geraint Lewis’ most recent book, Lloerig.

The novel, which came a close second for the prize at the National Eisteddfod, deals with a mother’s response to her 16-year-old son’s suicide.

It breaks new ground in more than one way. As well as being only one sentence from start to finish, the novel deals with the rather little discussed issue of sextortion.

Sextortion is described as a crime that involves threatening to release private and sensitive material unless the individual under threat provides money. The term is a portmanteau of sex and extortion and is a form of non-physical coercion.

The novel guides the reader through the mind of Mari, a mother in her fifties who is trying to make sense of what motivated her son, Kevin, to end his own life. The mother reveals that her son owed an individual £5,000 after being extorted.

Geraint said the original idea for the novel came from newspaper articles about the increasing number of young men committing suicide.

He said: “I thought it was an important topic to deal with story-wise. I like to think that the reader will come to understand how fragile life is, especially for the younger generation in the age we live in.”

The revelation of Kevin’s decision should prompt a discussion about the influence of social media on the young people of rural Wales.

Asked why he chose to write a single sentence novel without punctuation, he said: “Why not?

“Gradually I’ve grown fond of writing in the stream of consciousness style.

“The great advantage of the form is that you and the reader can go straight into the character’s mind.”

The illustration on the novel’s cover is Pwll Fenws a’r Lleuad (2020) by Iwan Bala, one of Wales’ most distinguished artists.

The title, Lloerig, plays on two meanings in the Welsh language. The word can mean somebody of unsound mind as well as something pertaining to the moon. The word is equivalent to the English language word “lunatic.”

Elwyn Jones, a co-judge of the Prose Medal at the 2021 National Eisteddfod, said: “Reading about the death of a 16-year-old boy is challenging but in the hands of such a skilled author the sensitivity of the writing gives readers an opportunity to explore a number of powerful themes.”

Lloerig is available in bookshops across Wales, online via www.carreg.gwalch.cymru and www.gwales.com.

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