In this long-awaited collection of surreal short stories award-winning novelist Robin Llywelyn brings to life a host of memorably bizarre characters in a series of imagined, notionally real or re-invented worlds, many of the tales loosely linked to the vicissitudes of a failing daily newspaper. The student researching the history of a noted French vineyard uncovers dark secrets in the château’s gothicky cellars and towers; the tables are nimbly turned on the mad uncle in his sci-fi laboratory; self-important public figures find themselves turned into lobsters in a restaurant tank in a pretentious restaurant whose bad-tempered Breton owner serves weeds to the visiting critic, whilst other diners include historical figures complaining in Latin or blagging bottles of wine; the prisoner of a repressive regime pays a ghostly visit home before execution. From Wales to imperial Russia and beyond, stories of betrayal, intrigue and murder unfold, but tempered with moments of joie de vivre and festivity and of undying love.
With his characteristic verve and sardonic eye, Robin Llywelyn combines the simplicity of fable or folk-tale and the immediacy of richly colourful, demotic dialogue, with polyglot erudition, intertextuality and verbal gymnastics. Shifting from political and literary satire to pathos and knockabout farce, this a breath-taking achievement by Wales’s most inventive fiction writer.
This is an experimental and timely book – indeed, a call for us to see the world afresh (and as a result, perhaps to see it more clearly than ever) ... This is the responsibility that Cerdded mewn Cell places on its reader: to see the world afresh and, at a time of desperate need, to dare to re-imagine it.