I want to bring Islwyn Ffowc Elis's amazingly far-sighted novel to a new audience, hoping that they will be inspired to make Wales the amazing country that we all know it can be.
1957 was a bleak year in Wales. The steady decline in the use of the Welsh language, and in the status of Welsh culture and tradition more generally - which had been going on for at least 150 years - continued apace, while the economy, dominated by labour-intensive heavy industries, still lagged behind the rest of the UK.
The formation of Plaid Cymru in 1925 had seemingly done little to arrest it. Gwynfor Evans’ stunning victory in the 1966 Carmarthen by-election was 9 years away. Anything to do with being Welsh was firmly associated with the past. It might have been a romantic past or a benighted past, depending on one’s point of view; but nevertheless it was a past which was unlikely ever to be revisited.
To sit down and write a novel imagining a distinctively Welsh future, 75 years hence, was incredibly subversive and took real originality. Yet that's precisely what Islwyn Ffowc Elis, already regarded as one of the pre-eminent Welsh-language novelists of the 20th Century, did.
Although the novel is known of outside Wales (see for example the American comic strip in the title picture), until now no-one has ever translated it into English in its entirety. Having previously made a translation of Daniel Owen's classic 19th Century novel, 'Rhys Lewis', I have now completed a translation of Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd.
The translation was made with the permission of Elis's estate, and it was originally hoped that Gomer would be able to publish it. However, Gomer has since pulled out of the English-language publishing market, and so I have teamed up with the publisher of Rhys Lewis - Brown Cow Books of Mold - to bring Elis's book to market.
Elis's book imagines two possible futures for Wales in the year 2033. In the first, Wales is a prosperous independent country, fully bilingual, startlingly cosmopolitan, and at ease with itself. In the second, the country has to all intents and purposes ceased to exist, its population moved off the land to a crime-infested strip along the south coast while the rest of what was once Wales is plundered for its resources of woodland and water.
With 14 years to go before the time that Elis imagined, there is still everything to play for. The Welsh independence movement is stronger than it's been for centuries; while at the same time there are those who look hungrily at our land and see it as nothing but a giant carbon sink for England's economy, fit only to be wooded over or covered in windfarms while its people are cleared away. Either of the outcomes that Elis imagined could still take place.
The funds sought through this project will be used to publish the translation, under the title 'A Week in Future Wales', and bring it to the largest audience possible at this critical time in our country's history. The hope is that it will inform the choices that people will make in the run-up to the 2021 Senedd elections, pushing independence even higher up the agenda than it is already.
Any surplus funds, and any proceeds from book sales, will be donated to the "Yes Cymru" campaign for Welsh independence. To provide complete transparency, all funds associated with the project will go through the books of the not-for-profit company that I've set up specifically for this project, which I've called "Ifan Powell Limited" after the hero of the book.