Toxteth, Liverpool, England
|Alma mater||Aberystwyth University|
|Literary movement||Modernism, post-modernism, transgressive fiction|
Niall Griffiths (born 1966) is an English author of novels and short stories, set predominantly in Wales. His best known works include his first two novels Grits and Sheepshagger, and his 2003 publication Stump which won the Wales Book of the Year award.
Griffiths was born in Toxteth, Liverpool, but had a long family link to Welsh roots in West Wales. As a nine-year-old boy Griffiths found a second-hand copy of a novel by Rhondda writer Ron Berry in a junk shop. Berry, who wrote from the viewpoint of the industrial working class, but in a more earthy and centred style then many of his more celebrated peers, "spoke" to Griffiths who was captured by the language and style of the writing. In future years Griffiths continued to cite Berry as a major influence, along with writers Alexander Trocchi and Hubert Selby Jr. In 1976 his family emigrated to Australia, but returned three years later after his mother became homesick.
Griffiths found himself in trouble with the law during his adolescence, and at the age of 15 he was sent on an Outward Bound course in Snowdonia in North Wales. He found the experience uplifting and refocused him to work harder at gaining an education, eventually gaining a degree in English. Griffith spent several years taking on a number of short term menial jobs before he was accepted into Aberystwyth University to study for a PhD in post-war poetry, but failed to complete the course. He followed this by researching his first novel, following disaffected and marginalised characters, living ordinary lives. This resulted in his debut novel, Grits, a story of addicts and drifters set in rural Wales, which was published in 2000.
Griffiths followed up Grits with Sheepshagger, a novel centred on a feral mountain boy named Ianto, which received strong reviews. In 2002 he published Kelly + Victor, which explores the passionate sexual relationship between two clubbers which spirals towards destruction. The book was made into a film in 2012, directed by his friend Kieran Evans. His 2003 novel Stump won two national awards, the Welsh Books Council Book of the Year and the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award. After two more novels Wreckage and Runt, he wrote two travel guides Real Aberystwyth, about his new home, and Real Liverpool, both edited by Peter Finch.
In 2009 he wrote Ten Pound Pom, travelling back to Australia for the first time as an adult, comparing his memories spent in the country as a child with his new found experiences. He followed this with a book of prose, In The Dreams of Max and Ronnie, New Stories from the Mabinogion, commissioned by Seren Books in a series that reimagines the stories of the Mabinogion undertaken by modern writers. The Dreams of Max and Ronnie take in the story of The Dream of Rhonabwy, while other books in the series featured the authors Owen Sheers, Gwyneth Lewis and Russell Celyn Jones. 2013 saw Griffiths release his seventh novel A Great Big Shining Star, his aggressive take on celebrity culture and fame. Two years later Griffiths released his first collection of poetry, Red Roar: 20 Years of Words.
- Grits (2000 ISBN 0-224-05996-3)
- Sheepshagger (2001 ISBN 0-09-928518-5)
- Kelly + Victor (2002 ISBN 0-09-942205-0)
- Stump (2003 ISBN 0-09-928758-7)
- Wreckage (2005 ISBN 0-09-946113-7)
- Runt (2007 ISBN 978-0-224-07123-9)
- Ten Pound Pom (2009)
- In The Dreams of Max and Ronnie, New Stories from the Mabinogion (2010)
- A Great Big Shining Star (2013)
Prizes and awards
- 2004 – Wales Book of the Year, for Stump
- "Niall Griffiths". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "Niall Griffiths was a Ten Pound Pom for three years. He went back to Oz to see what he's missing now". Western Mail. 14 May 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "Parthian's Authors". parthianbooks.com. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Brockway, Anthony (2004). "An Interview with Niall Griffiths". Wolf Man Knew My Father. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Jordan, Justine (3 February 2001). "Last exit to Aberystwyth". theguardian.com. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- Johnston, Trevor (29 January 2014). "Film of the week: Kelly + Victor". bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- March, Polly (27 August 2013). "Kieran Evans on his debut film Kelly + Victor". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
- "Niall Griffiths". britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 11 February 2014.