Wales Book of the Year prizes are awarded annually to the best Welsh and English language works in the fields of fiction and literary criticism by Welsh or Welsh interest authors.

Established in 1992, the awards are currently administered by the Academi, and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Books Council. In 2006, the prizes were each £10,000. In 2007, for the first time, four runners-up (two in each language) also each received £1000.

There was some controversy this year when Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas initially announced the wrong winner for the English language award. Whoops. See story and video below. (courtesy BBC)

English language

2008 Winner: Dannie Abse The Presence (Hutchinson)

2008 English language Shortlist

Dannie Abse, The Presence (Hutchinson)
Tom Bullough, The Claude Glass (Sort of Books)
Nia Wyn, Blue Sky July (Seren / Penguin)

2007: Lloyd Jones Mr Cassini (Seren)

2006: Robert Minhinnick To Babel and Back (Seren)

2005: Owen Sheers The Dust Diaries (Faber and Faber)

2004: Niall Griffiths Stump (Jonathan Cape)

2003: Charlotte Williams Sugar and Slate (Planet)

2002: Stevie Davies The Element of Water (The Women’s Press)

2001: Stephen Knight Mr Schnitzel (Viking)

2000: Sheenagh Pugh Stonelight (Seren)

Welsh language

2008 Winner: Gareth Miles Y Proffwyd a'l Ddwy Jesebel

2008 Welsh language Shortlist
Tony Bianchi, Pryfeta (Y Lolfa)
Gareth Miles, Y Proffwyd a’i Ddwy Jesebel (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
Ceri Wyn Jones, Dauwynebog (Gomer)

2007: Llwyd Owen Ffydd Gobaith Cariad (Lolfa)

2006: Rhys Evans Gwynfor: Rhag Pob Brad (Y Lolfa)

2005: Caryl Lewis Martha, Jac a Sianco

2004: Jerry Hunter Llwch Cenhedloedd

2003: Angharad Price O! Tyn y Gorchudd

Apology as poet scoops 2008 book prize

Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas initially announced the wrong winner before correctly naming Dannie Abse's The Presence Wales Book of the Year

A book by poet Dannie Abse written to help him overcome his grief after his wife died in a a car crash has won the Wales Book of the Year.

There was initial confusion when Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas named Tom Bullough the winner, before apologising and correcting the error.

Abse, an accomplished writer and poet, penned The Presence in the aftermath of his wife Joan's death in June 2005.

The Cardiff-born author, who lives in London, also wins a £10,000 prize.

Abse was pronounced winner of the annual prize at in the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff, on Tuesday, but there was controversy when the wrong name was announced.

Bullough, a young novelist, had almost reached the stage to collect the cheque amid the applause of the audience when it was announced that a mistake had been made, and that the actual winner was the veteran poet.

The culture minister immediately apologised for the mix-up, and Bullough returned to his seat while the award was then given to Abse. Bullough did not then return to the stage to collect his £1,000 runner's-up prize.

Later, the after-dinner speaker, historian John Davies, used part of his speech to criticise the minister in strong terms for the mistake.

Abse's The Presence is both a journal of his grief and a portrait of a marriage which lasted more than 50 years.

At Hay, Abse spoke movingly of his struggle to cope with the sudden loss of his wife.

He said after his wife's death he had "days of sloth" but "just raised moments to write something".

He said: "I hope (without confidence) to articulate unhappiness is to diminish it."

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