Nadifa Mohamed’s novel about Cardiff man wrongly convicted of murder wins Wales Book of the Year award

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The winner of the Wales English Book of the Year award

A novel by Nadifa Mohamed about a Cardiff man wrongly convicted of murder has won the 2022 Wales English Book of the Year award.

men of fortune, the author’s third novel, is a fictionalized retelling of the story of Mahmood Mattan, a man wrongfully convicted of murder in 1950s Cardiff.

News of this year’s winners was announced during a special on BBC Radio Wales’ Arts Show.

It was first stated that The men of fortune received the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, then the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award, before winning the overall award and the crowning title of Wales Book of the Year 2022.

For this treble, Nadifa receives a total prize of £4,000 and a bespoke trophy, designed and created by artist Angharad Pearce Jones.

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland in 1981 and moved to Britain when she was four years old. Her first novel, Black mamba boy, won the Betty Trask Award; it has been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Award, the Dylan Thomas Award and the PEN Open Book Award.

Her second novel, orchard of lost souls, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the Albert Bernard Prize. Nadifa Mohamed was shortlisted for the Granta Best of Young British Novelists in 2013 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

The men of fortune was shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. Nadifa Mohamed lives in London.

In the novel, Mahmood Mattan is a father, chancellor, petty criminal. He’s a lot of things, but he’s not a murderer. So when a trader is brutally killed and all eyes turn to him, Mahmood isn’t too worried.

He is innocent in this country where justice is done. It is only as the trial approaches, when the prospect of returning home diminishes, and does Mahmood realize that he is fighting for his life – against conspiracy, prejudice and cruelty – and that the truth may not be enough to save him.


The awards are judged by an independent jury appointed annually. The judges for this year’s English books are poet and writer Krystal Lowe, journalist and broadcaster Andy Welch, author and presenter Matt Brown, and poet and 2020 Rising Stars Award winner Taylor Edmonds.

On behalf of the jury, Krystal Lowe said, “We would like to thank each writer who submitted their book for this prize. It was not only a joy but an honor to read each of them.

“It was amazing to see the breadth of talent and creativity living in Wales, and I look forward to following the long and successful careers of all the writers who submitted. We are delighted to have chosen Nadifa Mohamad’s The men of fortune and I hope that many people will read this captivating novel.

Category Winners

Celebrating books in four categories – poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and children and young people – as well as the Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award, tonight’s show saw Literature Wales announce a total of six winners.

The winner of the [email protected] Poetry Prize was A voice from then by Jeremy Dixon (Arachne Press). His second collection of poetry, A voice from thenstarts with Jeremy’s teenage suicide attempt and expands to encompass themes of bullying, queerphobia, acceptance and support.

The winner of the Creative Non-Fiction Award was The Journey is Home: Notes from a Life on the Edge by John Sam Jones (Parthian). In these clear and captivating memoirs, John Sam Jones tells a story of journeys and achievement, acceptance and joy.

The winner of the Children and Youth Prize was The shark caller by Zillah Bethell (Usborne). Set on the shores of Papua New Guinea, this novel is a spellbinding adventure of friendship, forgiveness and bravery.

‘No surprises’

The Wales Book of the Year Award has been organized by Literature Wales since 2004, and during this time some of Wales’ most famous authors have received awards alongside bright new talent.

Leusa Llewelyn, Acting CEO of Literature Wales, said: “Congratulations to all the category winners, everyone at Literature Wales has been enjoying and discussing the shortlisted books for months.

“Special congratulations to Nadifa for winning the treble with The men of fortune. It’s no surprise at all that she won the hearts of judges and readers alike with this powerful novel about injustice and oppression.

“Men of Fortune brings the multicultural docklands of our capital city to life in the 1950s with its sights, smells and sounds, Cardiff becoming an intriguing character in its own right within the pages of this gripping novel.

Mori by Ffion Dafis

“Take risks”

The Wales Book of the Year Award 2022 in the Welsh language was awarded last week to the ‘masterpiece’ Mori by Ffion Dafis.

Mori who also won the Welsh @ Bangor University Fiction Award, was announced as the winner by Literature Wales on Radio Cymru.

A powerful contemporary story, Mori is the first novel by actress and presenter Ffion Dafis after the success of Syllu ar Walia (Y Lolfa, 2017). The novel follows Morfudd and his obsession with a girl who sends a request to be his friend on social media.

His relationship with the young girl forces Morfudd to confront the secrets of his past and embark on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance that takes him to some very dark places.

Ffion Dafis hails from Bangor and is a household name in the arts sector in Wales. She is known for playing the role of Llinos in the TV series Amdani and Rhiannon in Byw Celwydd on S4C.

She starred as Lady Macbeth in Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s groundbreaking production of Shakespeare’s play at Caerphilly Castle in 2017.

This is the fourth consecutive year that a novel has been named Welsh Book of the Year in Wales. Mori follows you oh i am awyr by Megan Angharad Hunter, babel by Ifan Morgan Jones, and Lyfr Glas Nebo of Manon Steffan Ros in the chain of novels to receive the coveted title. These four books are published by Y Lolfa.

Ffion receives a cash prize of £4,000, along with a trophy designed and created by artist Angharad Pearce Jones.

On behalf of the Panel, Mirain Iwerydd said, “Reading Mori was like stepping into the recesses of the main character’s mind and experiencing everything that was happening through his eyes. Writing a character like Mori is no small feat. She is complicated, and sometimes very dark thoughts cross her mind.

“The novel takes risks and explores themes and subjects that have never been approached in Welsh literature in this way before.

“I believe Mori’s character is a masterpiece on its own, but combine that with the careful weaving of a humorous and skillful narrative created by Ffion Dafis – well, that’s how you win the Wales book of the year! Thoroughly deserved. Congratulations Ffion.

This sentiment was echoed by judge Melanie Owen, who added, “Mori is an exceptional piece. We three judges have very different tastes in literature, but Mori appealed to everyone. Ffion’s talent as a writer cannot be disputed – I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.


It was also announced that the collection Y Pump overcame the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl poll (audience choice).

The ten writers who wrote the collection of 5 novels will share the distinction and the prize: Elgan Rhys and Tomos Jones (Tim), Mared Roberts and Ceri-Anne Gatehouse (Tami), Marged Elen Wiliam and Mahum Umer (Aniq), Iestyn Tyne and Leo Drayton (Robyn), Megan Angharad Hunter and Maisie Awen (Cat)*.

The main prizes were judged by an independent jury appointed each year. This year, Welsh-language books will be judged by broadcaster Mirain Iwerydd, presenter of BBC Radio Cymru 2’s Sunday Breakfast Show; presenter and columnist Melanie Owen; the academic, publisher and author of the academic journal, Llên Cymru, Siwan Rosser; and director, poet and writer Gwion Hallam**. Gwion Hallam, however, was not part of the fiction category or main prize discussions due to a conflict of interest.

The Wales Book of the Year Award has been organized by Literature Wales since 2004, and during this time some of Wales’ most famous authors have received awards alongside bright new talent.

Leusa Llewelyn, Acting CEO of Literature Wales, said: “Congratulations to Ffion Dafis on winning the Wales Book of the Year Award with Mori, a novel that gave us a Blodeuwedd-esque anti-heroine both amazed and scared. . It’s wonderful to see a new novelist succeed this year, and I hope it inspires other up-and-coming writers across Wales to put pen to paper.

“Congratulations to the writers and co-writers of Y Pump, an ambitious and pioneering project that features new and future writers and their own unique stories.

“The series sets the tone to transform our literary landscape, helps underrepresented writers use their voices, and does it all with bells and whistles.

“We are extremely lucky to have writers like these creating work in Welsh, and it’s no surprise that they won the popular vote and won the Golwg360 Barn and Bobl Award.

Category Winners

Last week, Literature Wales announced which books topped the Welsh-language categories as well as the overall winner of the award, throughout a series of broadcasts on BBC Radio Cymru.

  • [email protected] Fiction Award: Mori by Ffion Dafis (Y Lolfa)
  • Poetry Prize: merch y llyn by Grug Muse (Cyhoeddiadau’r Stamp)
  • Creative Non-Fiction Award: Paid to Bod Ofn de Non Parry (Y Lolfa)
  • Children and Youth Prize: Y Pump co-written by several writers (Y Lolfa)
  • Golwg360 Barn y Bobl Award (People’s Choice): Y Pump Y Pump co-written by multiple writers (Y Lolfa)

Read more about Wales Book of The Year here.

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