Essays on the Future of Wales Edited by Darren Chetty, Grug Muse, Hanan Issa and Lestyn Tyne Penguin Random House

How do you define a national identity? Is it contained within a shared history, language or culture? Is it an attachment to a landscape or place, a feeling of being at home? Who gets to decide?

In this collection of essays by some of Wales’ most prominent writers – among them authors, academics, artists, musicians and activists – Welsh Plural explores new ways of thinking about the country and what it means to be Welsh. After all, what exactly is it that unites more than three million people, across nearly 21,000 square kilometres of land?

Wrapped in a vibrant jacket inspired by the Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt, itself a patchwork recycled from colourful cloth cut-offs, the book weaves together a variety of narrative forms; historical essays, poetry, letters and even an interactiv­e chooseyour-own-adventure story. Each is embellishe­d with details that form a much more complex portrait of the country than the usual clichés that come to mind – rugby, sheep and, as the book calls them, the 3Cs: castles, coal and choirs.

For anyone who knows less about Welsh history and culture than perhaps they rightfully should, there is a wealth of informatio­n to find threaded throughout the pages of this book, from Wales’ active participat­ion in the British Empire (and its ties to colonialis­m and slavery) to its devolution and the country’s own NorthSouth divide.

For those that know Wales well, prepare to see it from a different perspectiv­e. Each essay challenges the often outdated ways of thinking about Welsh identity, or indeed any national identity, in ways that are in turn insightful, angry, funny and sometimes heartwrenc­hing. Just as Welsh plurals come in a multitude of forms, grammatica­lly speaking, Welsh Plural draws attention to the many kinds of Welsh identities, both past and present, in all their complexiti­es.

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