Yesterday we were absolutely thrilled to discover that Cowgirl – the debut novel by G.R. Gemin – had won the Tir na n-Og Award! Organised by the Welsh Books Council, and sponsored by CILIP Cymru/Wales, the award celebrates the best English-language title with an authentic Welsh background.
Bev Bannon, Chair of the Tir na n-Og English-language Panel, said: “Cowgirl is a great read and Giancarlo has done a superb job in developing that feel-good factor in the novel.”
Giancarlo said: “I’m delighted to win the Tir na n-Og Award – it’s great to win this important prize for my first book, as it certainly encourages me to keep writing. I was very moved and proud to receive such an acknowledgement from my native country. Cowgirl was the first book I decided to set in Wales, and in writing it felt immediately at home.”
This is an incredible accolade for a truly extraordinary book. As well as winning the Tir na n-Og Award, Cowgirl has also been shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the UKLA Book Award, and nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
And it truly deserves the acclaim. With strong female characters and big-hearted social realism, this is a funny, moving story about communities coming together and finding happy endings in unexpected places
Growing up on an embattled estate in South Wales, Gemma is bored and surrounded by crime. With a dad in prison and a mum who has given up hope, she’s holding onto memories of happier times.
And when Gemma’s search for the scene of a perfect childhood day takes her into the hills, she encounters the legendary Cowgirl. Everyone at school knows she’s a weirdo, and that the only conversations she has are with the cows on her dad’s farm. But with her arrival in Gemma’s life, everything starts to look different. And with her only friends in mortal danger of the abattoir, it turns out she and Gemma have a mission on their hands.
If you’ve not yet discovered the book, here are the first three chapters of Cowgirl: