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Not Quite White by Simon Thirsk

Not Quite White

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Lovereading view...

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010.

Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment:
"We all found this romantic culture clash novel a delight, endlessly funny and constantly surprising."

The Lovereading view...

A satirical, but often touching love story about the vexed relationship between the Welsh and the English that's sure to spark debate, Debut novel Not Quite White deals with small-town racism, corruption and the selfish arrogance of those who think they know best. With a Foreword by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas and endorsements from leading literary figures Angharad Price, Helen Dunmore and Gillian Clarke it also provides a defence of the Welsh language from an English in-comer and thereby offers a different perspective on an age old battle.

A comment for the author...
"Ardderchog! - excellent news that Not Quite White has been shortlisted for the Costa. At a time when book groups are interested in so many incoming ethnic cultures in Britain, our own Welsh tribe appears to have been somewhat overlooked, despite being directly descended from the original Britons.

I hope Not Quite White will amuse and provoke people on both sides of Offa’s Dyke and do a little to remedy this. I moved to Wales 13 years ago and fell in love with its magical landscape, people and hidden charms. This novel is my attempt to share that love and at the same time draw attention to a culture and way of life that could soon be lost forever." - Simon Thirsk

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Not Quite White by Simon Thirsk

In this modern allegory for Wales’s cultural subjugation, the descendants of Llewelyn’s army sit waiting for the English invaders, as they have done for generations, though this time the occupiers will be coming in the guise of tourists, retirement couples and second homers. Jon Bull, a specialist in racism and community relations, has been sent by a Westminster think-tank to solve the politically-embarrassing problem of Llanchwaraetegdangelyn – and bring the last totally Welsh-speaking town into line. Waiting for him is the beautiful but traumatised Gwalia, who has been instructed by Gwrthsafiad, the Welsh Resistance, to spy on him and thwart him. Can Jon reconcile the preservation of Wales’s ancient culture and language with the need to save Gwalia and her town from themselves? And will he be able to solve the conundrums of that ancient love-hate relationship between Wales and England?


'An uplifting and utopian vision of Wales and its language.'
Helen Dunmore

'A tragic-comic battle between two cultures.'
Gillian Clarke

'An important book for readers of all backgrounds.'
Angharad Price

About the Author

Simon Thirsk

Simon Thirsk lives in Bala, North Wales, and is chairman of poetry publisher Bloodaxe Books. He has worked as a journalist, lecturer and charity co-ordinator. After moving to Wales in 1997, he learned Welsh and became chairman of Welsh-speaking town development project in Y Bala. His TV drama Small Zones was broadcast on BBC2, and he has an Honours Degree in Philosophy.

Author photo © Nia Jenkin

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Book Info

Publication date

30th July 2010


Simon Thirsk

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Gomer Press


480 pages


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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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