The Shortlist for the Irish Book Awards was announced this afternoon and there are some great books and authors on this year’s list, which was announced virtually on Twitter.
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. This obviously won’t be happening this year, but as with previous years, 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:
Eason Novel of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: To be fair, I’ve only read two of these, Small Things Like These and White City and I loved both so would be happy to see either win.
Who Will Win: Let’s face it. Put Sally Rooney in a shortlist and she’ll probably win…
Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: Well, since I haven’t read any of these, I’m not really best placed to say, but I am very partial to Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series so I’ll go with her.
Who Will Win: Catherine Ryan Howard and Steve Cavanagh are both very popular here in Ireland so I’ll put my money on one of them.
Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: Without a doubt, Una Mannion. I love her poetry, she’s a fantastic person and A Crooked Tree is a wonderful coming of age story.
Who Will Win: I would say Sarah Gilmartin could lift this one for Dinner Party: A Tragedy. It didn’t completely work for me, but it has been very well received.
Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year
I’m not even going to try and hazard a guess with this category because it is SUCH a strong one. I’ve read and enjoyed all these authors but this is almost impossible to call. Donal Ryan won Irish Book of the Year last year for Strange Flowers so could be in with a good shot, but it’s hard when you are up against the institution that is Marian Keyes!
Writing.ie Short Story of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: I thought that Bernard MacLaverty’s new short story collection Blank Pages was a bit of a masterpiece. Blackthorns wasn’t my favourite of the stories, but it was very timely. I’d love to see Jan Carson win this though.
Who Will Win: Bernard or Roddy.
You can read all the shortlisted short stories here.
The An Post Bookshop of the Year
Who I Would Like to Win: I mean, come on. No Alibis Bookstore all the way!
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 winners announced on 23 November and televised on 8 December. An Post Irish Book of the Year will be shown on RTE One and will feature interviews with some of the winning authors and the announcement of the overall An Post Book of the Year.
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!