Penny Thomas, Publisher at children’s and YA publisher Firefly Press has acquired World English rights in prize-winning, co-created YA novel The Five (Y Pump) from Welsh language publishers, Y Lolfa.
Originally published in Welsh as a series of five novellas, The Five was initiated by writer and producer Elgan Rhys, employing an innovative writing process which teamed up-and-coming authors with debut co-authors who had lived experience of the subject matter. The translation is currently being undertaken by one of the original authors, Mared Roberts, with input from the other authors.
The novel focusses on the friendship between five very different teenagers who find themselves thrown together at their school in north-west Wales. Tim, Tami, Aniq, Robyn and Cat fight for each other and their place in the world, in the face of provocation and occasionally challenging personal circumstances. Both embracing and subverting conventional coming-of-age narratives, The Five is a distinctive and relatable depiction of young adult life in Wales today.
Each novella was originally published with a prologue by 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal winner Manon Steffan Ros, who was a creative mentor on the original series. Read on for a sneak peek of the English translation of Manon’s prologue.
‘We were intrigued and impressed by the radical authorship process, and enthusiasm behind The Five,’ said Firefly publisher, Penny Thomas, ‘and we’re very pleased we will be able to bring this novel to an English-speaking readership.’
‘I am delighted to be collaborating with Firefly on expanding the world of these five characters and welcoming more readers into their lives,’ says Elgan Rhys. ‘Our joyous collaboration on the original series was an untested way of working, and it’s been humbling to see it be embraced by readers and the industry. I’m certain Mared’s adaptation will continue to inspire young people, particularly those who might not be used to seeing their experiences authentically portrayed.’
And Darren Chetty of Books for Keeps said, ‘I’m delighted that Y Pump will be translated into English. The Five depicts a diverse, modern Wales and has been written through a pioneering, collaborative approach that I hope might be adopted more widely in children’s and YA literature. It’s a multi-perspective story written by young authors immersed in both the genre and contemporary reality of the coming-of-age story.’
The novel is slated for publication in 2025.
Follow the Y Pump project on Instagram.
The Five: Prologue by Carnegie 2023 Medal-winning author, Manon Steffan Ros
In this town…
In this town, where the cracks in the pavements are veins under our feet. Where on Sundays, the seagulls pick on cubed colours of puke from last night, and the shining shards of bottles glint prettily by the park railings. Where the sea is blue or green or silver or grey, breathing icily over the streets and houses.
I know this place. I know the people, without having to know their names or speaking to them. I know them as I know the graffiti on the bus stop, and the town clock face that has spent fifteen years insisting that it’s twenty to nine. The people are a part of here as much as the roads, the buildings, the history.
There are five that illuminate this place as the streetlights do.
Sometimes, they are alone, wrapped in coats or bent into hoods against the roar of rain or reprobation, their tiny headphones muting the world. But sometimes, they are two or three or four or five, and that is when they catch the light.
The wheels of her chair sighing their relief on to the pavement, almost lost under the song of her friends’ laughter. A shy look between two, the locking of eyes more intimate than any touch. All the hues of a heart in long, soft scarves. These are different, this Five, but different from what? Sometimes, all you need to do in order to stand out of the crowd is to smile.
Arm in arm, someone’s head on someone’s shoulder, a private smile, a half-whispered conversation, dirty jokes and raucous laughter. Best mates. This town has seen generations of them, tightly knotted friends, too young to know that these are the best friends they’ll ever have. Too young to know that who they are now, insecure and imperfect and uncompromising, is the best version of them that will ever exist.
In this town…
They have mettle and melody. Joy and juxtaposition. They fight, are friends, and are as broken as the cracks in the pavement and as perfect as the tiny flowers that grow from them. This town, now, belongs to them.