This Christmas, find gifts for the whole family with our 2022 gift guide. We’ve got special offers on some of your favourite authors, books which are hot-off-the-press and popular classics.
All The Men I Never Married by Kim Moore
Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Poetry 2022, All The Men I Never Married is the astounding second collection by Kim Moore. Pointedly feminist, challenging and keenly aware of the contradictions and complexities of desire, this collection speaks to the experiences of many women. The 48 numbered poems take us through a gallery of exes and significant others where we encounter rage, pain, guilt, and love.
Four Dervishes by Hammad Rind
“Easily the most remarkable work of fiction to come out of Wales in a thousand moons” says Jon Gower. Hammad Rind’s debut novel Four Dervishes is a satirical comedy which takes inspiration from the dastan, an ornate form of oral history. Forced onto the street by a power cut, the unnamed narrator finds himself sheltering in a cemetery where he comes across four others – a grave digger, an aristocrat, an honourable criminal and a messiah – each with a past, and with a story to tell. Crimes have been committed, dark family secrets revealed, fortunes rise and fall, the varieties of love are explored, and new selves are discovered in a rich round of storytelling. And as the Disappointed Man discovers, a new story is about to begin…
Bar 44: Tapas y Copas by Owen & Tom Morgan
Bar 44 Tapas y Copas is the perfect gift for hardcore foodies and home cooks alike. Packed with over 100 out of this world recipes which elevate Spanish cuisine to exciting new heights, it includes dishes for any occasion. Chicken sobrassada and spiced yoghurt, beetroot gazpacho, tuna tartare with apple ajo blanco, lamb empanada, strawberry and cava sorbet and pear and olive oil cake are just some of the dishes you can try at home. There’s even a chapter dedicated to sherry and Spanish wines with some fantastic cocktails mixed in for good measure. What more could you want?
100 Poems to Save the Earth edited by Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans
A book for both the climate conscious and poetry fanatics, this landmark anthology 100 Poems to Save the Earth brings together poems by the best new and established contemporary poets from Britain, Ireland, America and beyond. They invite us to fine-tune our senses, to listen to the world around us, and pay attention to what we have been missing. The defining crisis of our time is revealed to be fundamentally a crisis of perception. We must act now if we are to save the only planet we have.
Dark Land, Dark Skies by Martin Griffiths
In Dark Land, Dark Skies, astronomer Martin Griffiths subverts conventional astronomical thought by eschewing the classical naming of constellations and investigating Welsh and Celtic naming. Ancient peoples around the world placed their own myths and legends in the heavens, though these have tended to become lost behind the dominant use of classical cultural stories to name stars. In many cases it is a result of a literary culture displacing an oral one. Griffiths draws on his research into the past use of Welsh heroes from the Mabinogion in the naming of constellations, to create an interesting and provocative guidebook that combines astronomy with a new perspective on Welsh mythology.
Darkness in the City of Light by Tony Curtis
The ‘city of light’ under German occupation: Paris, a place, a people, lives in flux. And among these uncertainties, these compromised loyalties, these existences under constant threat, lives Marcel Petiot, a mass murderer. A doctor, a resistance fighter, a collaborator: who can tell? Stretching backwards and forwards through the twentieth century, Darkness in the City of Light is a remarkable multi-form novel that combines fiction, journals, poetry and images in its investigation of what war can let loose, and how evil can dominate a man. The compelling debut novel by Tony Curtis.
Christmas Bundle: The Occasional Vegan and The Seasonal Vegan by Sarah Philpott
The Occasional Vegan is a collection of simple, affordable and delicious recipes, suitable for newcomers and long-time vegans alike, that will keep you well-fed and healthy. Author Sarah Philpott’s recipes are accompanied by the story of her own journey to becoming a vegan, exploring the ethical and lifestyle arguments for a plant-based diet. Her recipes are homely and easily cooked, suitable for gourmet cooks and the kitchen novice.
In her follow-up, The Seasonal Vegan she presents a kitchen diary of seasonal recipes with a delicious mixture of fine food writing and beautiful photography. Her guide to eating with the seasons takes a realistic approach to shopping cheaply and sustainably and proves that the vegan lifestyle is anything but expensive.
163 Days by Hannah Hodgson
In her debut collection 163 Days Hannah Hodgson uses a panoply of medical, legal, and personal vocabularies to explore what illness, death and dying does to a person as both patient and witness. In her long poem ‘163 Days’, her longest period of hospitalisation to date, she probes various truths which clash like a tray of dropped instruments in a silent operating theatre. The mundanity of hospital life is marbled by a changing landscape of mood, hope and loss. A gap yawns between the person she is, and the person in her medical notes. In ‘Aftercare’, Hannah navigates the worlds of both nightclubs and hospice care as she embarks on a new version of her life as a disabled adult. An important collection, in which Hodgson’s true voice takes poetry into difficult places.
The Rivalry of Flowers by Shani Rhys James
The Rivalry of Flowers is a book of new paintings and works by Shani Rhys James, one of Britain’s leading and most distinctive artists. Her latest work has developed a lighter palette to deal with new subjects of flowers and colourful patterned wallpaper backgrounds. These themes of domesticity are not anodyne however, but informed by ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 story about the plight of women in the home. Rhys James’s paintings continue her exploration of the position of women in society, and in particular how women can be imprisoned by consumerism and the domestic environment.
With contributions from William Packer, Francesca Rhydderch and Edward Lucie-Smith.
Christmas Bundle: Kidnap Fury of the Smoking Lovers and The Stromness Dinner by Peter Benson
If a light, witty read is what you’re looking for, then you’ve found it here. Kidnap Fury of the Smoking Lovers details exactly how Fargo Hawkins steals a car to travel across Britain with his ex-employer’s wife. Described by Buzz Magazine as the ‘perfect read to provide a bit of escapism’, this novel will bring a bit of joy in lieu of winter gloom this Christmas.
Preter’s previous novel The Stromness Dinner is the story of two Londoners who follow their dreams. Odd job man Ed and city banker Claire end up in Stromness where they find anything is possible in this compelling novel. Kind, funny, narrated by white van man Ed, The Stromness Dinner is a novel which rattles along with “irresistible pace and panache” – Val Hennessy.
Twelve Poems for Christmas edited by Amy Wack
Twelve Poems for Christmas is a sparkling selection of Christmas poems, the perfect stocking filler for any poetry addict. These are poems full of feeling that resist cliché, that touch on classic ‘Christmas’ themes, but bring them to life from fresh perspectives. The pamphlet opens with Pippa Little’s lyrical and tender poem, ‘St. Leonore and the Robin’, and features poems both humorous and contemplative. Small enough to send with (or instead of) a card, this is the perfect festive treat for your loved ones.
This Is Not Who We Are by Sophie Buchaillard
This is Not Who We Are is the gripping debut novel by Sophie Buchaillard which follows the lives of two women, Iris and Victoria. In 1994 they are pen friends. Iris writes to Victoria from her home in Paris. Victoria writes back from a refugee camp in Goma, having fled the genocide in Rwanda in which thousands are being killed. One day Victoria’s letters stop, and Iris is told she has been moved.
Twenty years after their unlikely pen pal correspondence, they are living different lives in different places. But this one horrific event still connects them. As the pressure of long-kept family secrets builds, will they ever find each other?
Sabrina’s Teardrop by Leslie Scase
Fans of historical crime fiction are sure to be captivated by Leslie Scase’s latest Inspector Chard mystery Sabrina’s Teardrop. Returning to his native Shrewsbury, the previously enigmatic Inspector Chard finds himself arrested for a horrific double murder. Facing execution, he must fight to clear his name. As tensions rise, can Chard find a missing woman and the stolen Sabrina’s Teardrop sapphire to solve the riddle before it is too late?
Don’t forget to also look up book two in the series Fatal Solution.
Two-book Deal: Scar Tissue and An Affair of the Heart by Clare Morgan
In a world of uncertainties, how do human beings navigate the increasingly complex interrelations of love, desire, home, community? In her short story collections An Affair of the Heart and Scar Tissue Clare Morgan offers a fresh perspective on the nature of individual existence in all its transient vulnerability. In these lyrical, evocative and searching stories, Clare Morgan unflinchingly explores the darker and more challenging aspects of emotional, sexual and familial relationships, while simultaneously celebrating the joys of being alive in an unfathomable world.
The Chicken Soup Murder by Maria Donovan
Maria Donovan’s debut novel, The Chicken Soup Murder, subverts the crime and murder mystery genres in a meditation on bereavement, friendship and the meaning of family. This emotionally involving coming-of-age narrative is told with resilience and humour by eleven-year-old Michael, a thoughtful boy who tests the boundaries of his own behaviour as he carries a burden of knowledge no one else seems willing to share.
Japan Stories by Jayne Joso
Japan Stories is a spellbinding collection of short fiction set in Japan by Jayne Joso. Each centres on a particular character – a sinister museum curator, a son caring for his dementia-struck father, a young woman who returns to haunt her killer, and a curious homeless man intent on cleaning your home with lemons! This work also includes Joso’s stories, ‘I’m not David Bowie’ and ‘Maru-chan’ an homage to Yayoi Kusama. Together, these compelling narratives become a mosaic of life in contemporary Japan, its people, its society, its thinking, its character. Illustrated by Manga artist Namiko, Japan Stories provides a window into a country we would all love to know more deeply.
Please by Christopher Meredith
“Punctuation killed my wife,” states octogenarian Vernon in the opening sentence of Please. Full of humanity, sly humour and verbal invention, Christopher Meredith’s fifth novel is his shortest and arguably funniest, most innovative and most outrageous. It’s a tragicomedy touching on themes of the limits of knowledge, on isolation, and male frailty in new and playful ways. The whole gradually and inexorably unlocks the meanings of its extraordinary opening sentence in a complex and dazzling psychological and linguistic entertainment that ends in a surprising, dreamlike and ultimately moving denouement.
Miriam, Daniel and Me by Euron Griffith
When Miriam fell in love with Padraig life seemed simple. But she soon discovered that love is a treacherous business. Everything changed when she met Daniel. She was taken down an unexpected path which would dictate and dominate the rest of her life.
Spanning three generations of a North Wales family in a Welsh-speaking community, Miriam, Daniel and Me is Euron Griffith’s absorbing and compelling story of family discord, political turmoil, poetry, jealousy… and football.
The Edge of Cymru: A Journey by Julie Brominicks
The Edge of Cymru is the story of Julie Brominicks’ year-long walk around the edge of Wales. As an educator she knew a lot about the country’s natural resources. But as a long established incomer from England and more recent Welsh learner, she wanted to know more about its history, about Wales today, and her place in it. As her walk unwinds the history of Wales is also unwound, from the twenty-first century back to pre-human times, often viewed through an environmental lens. Brominicksʼ observations of the places and people she meets on her journey make a fascinating alternative travelogue about Wales and the lives its people live. A quest of personal discovery, the narrative of The Edge of Cymru is also a refreshingly different way of looking at place, identity, memory and belonging.
Delirium by Robert Minhinnick
In his new book of short prose pieces, Delirium, award winning author Robert Minhinnick delivers a breathless epic. It opens with a real 1945 diary kept in Burma, and Minhinnick telling stories to his mother in her care home. There are a series of pictures of war-stricken Baghdad, and vignettes about place and travel, dedicated to Jan Morris. On the way we encounter a Middle East island devoted to sustainability, close ups of what clearing a family house reveals, and the writer’s intimately imagined Welsh sand dunes, as well as the Covid pandemic, threats of extinction, and images of post-apocalyptic life.
Real Hay-on-Wye by Kate Noakes
This new addition to the Real Series explores the town of Hay-on-Wye, home to the prestigious the Hay Literature Festival, How the Light Gets In festival, and so-called ‘town of books’. Kate Noakes ventures into its hinterland, which is historically so much a part of the town too. The Black Mountains to the south, the river and Clyro to the north, rural Herefordshire to the east and out towards Brecon to the west fall into her territory, a rich and varied area, which appears in so many travel guides and so much literature, and in the DNA of Hay locals as their patch. The beautiful countryside and dramatic mountains surrounding Hay also bear witness to change and Noakes makes her own contribution to the cultural heritage of an area which has inspired artists and in particular writers, for centuries. Real Hay-on-Wye is full of discoveries in a place that is familiar to many, though not as familiar as we might think.
A City Burning by Angela Graham
Longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2021
A city burns in a crisis − because the status quo has collapsed and change must come. Every value, relationship and belief is shaken and the future is uncertain.
In the twenty-six stories in A City Burning, set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, children and adults face, in the flames of personal tragedy, moments of potential transformation. Some of these moments occur in mundane circumstances, others amidst tragedy or drama. On the threshold of their futures each must make a choice: how to live in this new ‘now’.
Much With Body by Polly Atkin
Longlisted for the Laurel Prize 2022
In Much With Body by Polly Atkin the beauty of the Lake District is both balm and mirror, refracting pain and also soothing it with distraction. Much of the landscape is lakescape, giving the book a watery feel, the author’s wild swimming being just one kind of immersion. There is also a distinct link with the past in a central section of found poems taken from transcripts of the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, from a period late in her life when she was often ill. In common with the works of the Wordsworths, these poems share a quality of the metaphysical sublime. Their reverence for the natural world is an uneasy awe, contingent upon knowledge of our fragility and mortality.
The Amazingly Astonishing Story by Lucy Gannon
Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2021
By turns laugh out loud funny and deeply sad, The Amazingly Astonishing Story is a frank and surprising look into a child’s tumultuous mind, a classic story of a working-class girl growing up in the 60s. Her Catholic upbringing, a father torn between daughter and new wife, her irreverent imagination and determination to enjoy life, mean this really is an amazing story (including meeting the Beatles).
‘The saddest, happiest, funniest books I’ve read for ages.’ – Dawn French
Aperture: Life Through a Fleet Street Lens by John Downing
John Downing was the pre-eminent press photographer of his generation. His memoir, Aperture: Life Through a Fleet Street Lens, offers a unique and first-hand insight into life behind the Fleet Street lens during one of the most interesting periods of world history and a golden age of photojournalism. The glamour and excitement of journalism at the time: the hard-nosed editors, the rivalries, the ‘work hard play hard culture’, foreign assignments issued at the drop of a hat, are brought vividly to life, but so too is the toll on journalists and photographers. At a time when the world was less accessible than now, newspapers, and photojournalists in particular, played a vital role in shining light into some of its darker, more inaccessible parts. Completed shortly before his death, with the help of colleague Wendy Holden, Downing filed a story for the final time: his own remarkable life.
Elaine Morgan: Life Behind the Screen by Daryl Leeworthy
Elaine Morgan: A Life Behind the Screen is Daryl Leeworthy’s informative biography of award-winning screen writer Elaine Morgan. The book establishes her reputation and significant place in writing from Wales. It outlines her early days living only just above the poverty line in the Rhondda, before reading English Literature at Oxford, and examines her careers as an award-winning television writer and visionary anthropologist. Richly detailed it is essential in understanding the life and work of this important writer.
“A scintillating new biographical study, impressively researched and elegantly written.” – Dai Smith
Best New Poetry
Escape Room by Bryony Littlefair
Escape Room is the long-awaited debut collection by Bryony Littlefair, following her Mslexia prize-winning pamphlet Giraffe. At the heart of Escape Room is the question of how to find light within the pain of anxiety and loss, the consolatory powers of friendship and creativity and the reimagining of life’s darkness as ‘an emerald, exciting kind of dark, a gaseous dark, dark / with a lot of light inside it.’
Balancing resolute joy, with humour and irony, it is a contemporary Betjemanesque exploration of suburban, middle-class life, with all its apathy and subconscious fear. Wryly observed this collection’s warmth, honesty and precision makes it an irresistible and perspicacious first collection.
Two-book Deal: Peter Finch’s Collected Poems: Volumes 1&2
Peter Finch’s two-volume Collected Poems chart the course of a remarkable writing career. A restless exploration of the ideas behind his boundary-pushing poems, they are a testament to the experimental in literature, to ways of doing it differently, and to an alternative modernist culture in Wales and Britain. Consequently, invaluably, they also open a window on a poetry scene seemingly lost from view to the twenty-first century. They remind us that there was interesting and vital writing happening outside of what has now calcified into the canon of twentieth century British poetry. And that Finch was at its cutting edge.
“The publication of his collected poems in two big juicy volumes will delight readers new and old.” – The Western Mail
Lairs by Judy Brown
Lairs brings together something primal and secret – the lair as haven for a wild or feral animal – with the poem framed as a mathematical equation. In these terms, the ‘lair’ is a kind of nest, a beautiful accumulation of dense detail. The poems are introspective, by turns analytical, fearful and mocking in their response to the systems shaping an altered world. The use of language is innovative, while maintaining moments of vulnerability and moving self-awareness. In these exquisite poems, the lair is both the community at large and a dark and intricate interior space where something wild still survives.
Homelands by Eric Ngalle Charles
In his debut collection Homelands, Eric Ngalle Charles draws on his early life raised by the matriarchs of Cameroon, being sent to Moscow by human traffickers, and finding a new home in Wales. Rich in tone, subject and emotion, Charles’ poetry moves between the present and the past, between Africa and Europe, and between despair and hope. It discovers that historical injustices now play out in new forms, and that family tensions are as strong as the love within a family. Despite the difficulties Charles has faced, Homelands contains poems of fondness, warmth and humour and, as he returns to Cameroon to confront old ghosts, forgiveness.
Goliat by Rhiannon Hooson
Goliat is the second collection by Rhiannon Hooson, a follow-up to her Wales Book of the Year nominated debut, The Other City. An intelligent and beautiful book, Goliat offers absorbing stories of a precarious world on the brink of climate emergency. Employing startling imagery and a deep sense of history, these poems explore the irreplaceable beauty of a wild world, and the terrible damage that humans might do to each other and the earth.
“Hooson’s poetry is a rich and assured gift—complex truths are revealed in language that is precise and luminous.” – Menna Elfyn
As If To Sing by Paul Henry
The power of song, to sustain the human spirit, resonates through As If To Sing. A trapped caver crawls back through songs to the sea; Welsh soldiers pack their hearts into a song on the eve of battle, ‘for safe-keeping’; a child crossing a bridge sings ‘a song with no beginning or end’… Rich in the musical lyricism admired by readers and fellow poets, As If To Sing is an essential addition to Paul Henry’s compelling body of work.
‘As If To Sing explores the human condition through the language of music and does so with a mastery of poetics.’ – Wales Arts Review
Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere by Angela Graham
Sanctuary is – urgent. The pandemic has made people crave it; political crises are denying it to millions; the earth is no longer our haven. This theme has enormous traction at a time of existential fear − especially among the young − that nowhere is safe. Even our minds and our bodies are not refuges we can rely on. Truth itself is on shaky ground. In Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere, Angela Graham and five other writers from Wales and Northern Ireland, addresses these critical situations from the inside. How we can save the earth, ourselves and others? How valid is the concept of a ‘holy’ place these days? Are any values still sacrosanct? We all deserve peace and security but can these be achieved without exploitation?
With Phil Cope, Viviana Fiorentino, Mahyar, Csilla Toldy and Glen Wilson
“A necessary and urgent response to the world’s increasing crises…” – Robert Minhinnick
Same Difference by Ben Wilkinson
Same Difference is the formally acute second collection by Ben Wilkinson. Carefully crafted, and charged with contemporary language, the poems play with poetic voice and the dramatic monologue, keeping us on our toes and asking just who is doing the talking. Throughout, he ‘steps into the shoes’ of French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (1844-96), reframing his voice for modern readers. Brimming with everyone from cage fighters and boy racers to cancer patients and whales in captivity, Same Difference is gritty, darkly ironic and often moving – a collection for our times.
Books for Nature Lovers
Waterfalls of Stars by Rosanne Alexander
When Rosanne Alexander’s boyfriend Mike was offered the job of warden of Skomer Island, they had just ten days to leave college, marry (a condition of employment) and gather their belongings and provisions. With great sensitivity, and humour, Rosanne Alexander relates their experiences, including her observations of the island’s wildlife and landscape. Her lyrical evocation of the natural world will inspire and entertain anyone who has felt the need for escape. Waterfalls of Stars is the perfect gift for any one needing a captivating breath of literary air.
Christmas bundle: Wild Places Wales and Wild Places UK by Iolo Williams
In these two books, television naturalist Iolo Williams picks his top 40 nature sites, first in Wales and then across the UK. He criss-crosses countries, taking in coastal sites from marshes to towering cliffs, to mountains, valleys, bogs, meadows, woods and land reclaimed from industry. Drawing on his considerable knowledge, he guides readers and visitors to the natural delights of each site. Illustrated in beautiful detail with glorious images of the sites by top nature photographers, naturalists of all kinds will find much to enjoy in these fascinating volumes.
The Owl House by Daniel Butler
In The Owl House, Daniel Butler charts his relationship with two barn owls which nested in the barn of his rural mid-Wales home. In this pastoral exploration of his locale, rich in wildlife of all kinds, he roams the mountains and forests, takes trips to the coast, encounters all manner of animals and birds, and grows to understand the relationship between the local people and their surroundings. A rich and vivid portrait of one of the most remote and sparsely populated areas of Britain – mid-Wales – broad in its horizons yet full of fascinating detail.
The Green Bridge edited by John Davies
The short story has long been a popular form with writers and readers in Wales. The Green Bridge, part of the Seren Classics series, collects work by 25 of the country’s foremost writers of the twentieth century in an entertaining and varied anthology. Horror, satire, humour, war, tales of the aristocracy, of navvies, love, and madness, industry, the countryside, politics and sport: these stories provide insight into the changing values of Wales and the world.
Tide-Race by Brenda Chamberlain
Tide-Race is Brenda Chamberlain’s remarkable account of life on Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli in Welsh), a remote and mysterious island off the coast of North Wales, where she lived from 1947 to 1961, during the last days of its hardy community. The combination of Bardsey, ancient site of Christian pilgrimage, wild and dangerous landscape, and Brenda Chamberlain, Royal Academy trained artist, results in a classic book, vividly illustrated by the author’s line drawings.
Other Women’s Kitchens by Alison Binney
Winner of the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2020
Alison Binney’s debut pamphlet of poems Other Women’s Kitchens introduces us to a gifted new voice who writes with flair and feeling about coming out and coming of age as a gay woman in 21st century Britain. The collection explores the challenges of discovering and owning a lesbian identity in the 1980s and 1990s and the joy of finding both love and increased confidence in that identity as an adult. Beautifully entertaining, pointedly political and often very funny, Other Women’s Kitchens is essential reading.
Angola, America by Sammy Weaver
Winner of the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2021
Angola, America takes its name from a prison in Louisiana in the southern United Sates. In these strikingly original, thoroughly contemporary, and deeply moving poems, we are immersed in the world the inmates must endure. From the first poem, when we witness a home-made tattoo and understand that this scarring and incision is a “map in the connective tissue of pain and loss”, we are drawn into this world in a way that is carefully observed and beautifully empathetic.
Flamingo by Kathryn Bevis
Kathryn Bevis’s critically-acclaimed debut pamphlet Flamingo introduces us to a troupe of wild, unique, and captivating poems. Life and our own embodiment are brought sharply into focus as we encounter a variety of subjects including work, survival, love, and mortality. Formally inventive, these hopeful and sometimes surreal poems are not afraid to confront complex or difficult emotions. Cancer is posed as a ring-tailed lemur, capering through the sufferer’s body, and the title poem imagines death as a flamboyant transformation where the speaker shapeshifts into the afterlife. Each poem is a discovery and a joy.
“A stunning and original pamphlet… inspiring, impressive and wonderful.” – The London Grip
bodies, and other haunted houses by S.L. Grange
Winner of the inaugural Poetry Wales Pamphlet Competition 2021
Speaking from and for LGBTQIA+ communities, SL Grange gives a voice to lost transcestors, celebrates acts of resistance, sings a gender-fluid love song, and hosts a tender-angry conversation with the ghosts of the personal and political histories that inhabit us. In true haunted house tradition, the non-human and the supernatural are also given rooms of their own; personal demons are summoned, we are entangled with our wilder sides. Witchcraft, seance and prophecy are invoked and brought up against sharp slices of reality. Described by judges as ‘strong and self-assured’, ‘sheer gorgeous’, and ‘a dark and brooding collection that combines the visceral nature of the body with the ephemeral and supernatural’, bodies, and other haunted houses is a beautifully crafted exploration of identity which queers time as well as self.
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