The Shortlist for the Irish Book Awards was announced yesterday and there are some great books and authors on this years list. The Irish Book Awards have a new sponsor this year – An Post – so the shortlist was announced in the GPO on Grafton Street, Dubin.
The over-riding motivation behind the awards is to celebrate the extraordinary quality of Irish writing, to help bring the best books to a wider readership annually, and to promote an industry under severe competitive pressures.
From a small base of three initial categories, the awards now include fifteen categories spanning the literary genres. Thousands of ordinary readers vote to select the winners every year. Libraries and bookshops showcase the best books of the year in the critical sales period of the fourth quarter. The Awards Dinner has become the major event in the literary calendar with Taoisigh and Presidents as guests of honour. Since 2011, highlights of the awards have been shown on RTÉ television.
The An Post Irish Book Awards brings together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise and celebrate the very best of Irish literary talent across fifteen categories, including Novel of the Year, Popular Fiction, Non-fiction, Crime, Children’s, Sports, Short Stories and Cookery.
Here are a few of the categories that I am particularly interested in.
Easons Book Club Novel of the Year
Who I Would Like To Win: This is a tough one as the quality of this category is extremely high this year and the inclusion of the Booker Prize Winner Milkman makes it seem like the obvious choice. My heart says Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park though. It’s a beautiful and beautifully written book and I am surprised that it hasn’t received more awards attention.
Who Will Win: I would put my money on either Milkman by Anna Burns or Normal People by Sally Rooney.
Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year
Who I Would Like To Win: I was very surprised not to see Caoillin Hughes’ wonderfully assured debut Orchid and the Wasp on this list. Unfortunately I haven’t read any of these as yet, although I do have Danny Denton’s The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow on my bedside table. So, I’ll go for that one!
Who Will Win: I would be very surprised if Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self doesn’t take this one as it has been so well-received with readers and critics alike.
The Irish Independent Crime Novel of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: As I’ve only read one of these – Skin Deep by Liz Nugent – that’s the one I’m going to root for!
Who Will Win: I’d say Skin Deep is going to be a hard one to beat, although it could have strong competition from Steve Cavanagh’s Thirteen, which has been a huge hit in Ireland. Just last night Steve won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for his novel The Liar.
Specsavers Popular Fiction Book of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: Again, I haven’t read any of these, but I would love to see Emma Hannigan win posthumously for Letters to My Daughter, which was published just before her untimely death from cancer.
Who Will Win: I would imagine that Graham Norton has this is the bag. I’ve not read any of his books yet and I know this got a famously bad review in the Irish Times earlier this month, but I still think he’ll get the popular vote.
Writing.ie Short Story of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: Nuala O’Connor. Hands down. She’s a master of the short story and I thought her collection Joyride to Jupiter was just wonderful. I’ll be interviewing Nuala on the blog next month about her new novel Becoming Belle
Who Will Win: I can’t call this one, although it is nice to see a shortlist of all women. I do find it strange that this award is for one single short story rather than for a collection, but who am I to say!
What’s most fantastic about the Irish Book Awards is that from here on in, the voting is down to the reading public. Voting is now open online, with the ceremony taking place on 27 November.
May the best books win!
Have you read any of the shortlisted books? Who would you cast your vote for?
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!