Naomi Paulus has won the 2021 Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for her story Take a Bite, a “delightful, wistful, satisfying piece” in which a young woman, Rhian, returns home to the voices and rituals of her mother and aunts for an important family event.
The competition recognises the very best unpublished short stories in English in any style and on any subject up to a maximum of 5,000 words by writers aged 18 or over who were born in Wales, have lived in Wales for two years or more, or are currently living in Wales.
Originally established in 1991, there have been eight Rhys Davies Short Story contests to date, and the 2021 competition has been relaunched by Swansea University’s Cultural Institute on behalf of The Rhys Davies Trust and in association with Parthian Books.
Paulus wins £1,000 and has her winning entry featured in the Rhys Davies Short Story Award Anthology 2021, which is published by Parthian next month. The stories from the other 11 finalists will also feature in the anthology and they receive £100.
Commenting on Take a Bite, guest judge Julia Bell said: “This story was a winner from the moment I read it. A delightful, wistful, satisfying piece which echoes some of the best of Rhys Davies, for a few pages giving us a window into a world which is both tender and profound. I extend Naomi Paulus many congratulations and look forward to reading whatever she produces next.”
Naomi was born, and had most of her formative experiences, in Swansea. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge and began writing shortly after turning 30. Since then, she has been longlisted for the Primadonna Prize three times and won their 2020 flash fiction competition. Alongside her writing, she also runs a digital agency in London.
On receiving the award, Naomi Paulus said: “Growing up, I loved listening to my grandmother tell stories about her sisters. I can’t describe how thrilled I am that my story inspired by them has won this prize. It means an incredible amount to me to have the recognition of Julia Bell and to follow in the footsteps of talented Welsh writers under the revered name of Rhys Davies. I’m completely overjoyed and immeasurably proud to continue in the important tradition of Welsh storytelling.”
The official launch of Take a Bite: The Rhys Davies Short Story Award Anthology will be held online on 30 September between 7pm-8pm. The launch will feature guest judge Julia Bell, editor Elaine Canning, and readings from the 2021 winner and finalists.
Born in Blaenclydach in the Rhondda in 1901, Rhys Davies was among the most dedicated, prolific, and accomplished of Welsh prose-writers in English. He wrote, in all, more than 100 stories, 20 novels, three novellas, two topographical books about Wales, two plays, and an autobiography.