Irish fiction

Dermot Healy a new found Treasure.

 Dermot HealyThe first I heard of Dermot Healy was in June 2014. A friend of mine was asked to read through poems to be considered for selection in the Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition. The next day, it was reported on the national news that he had passed away. It had been remarked by another one of my of friends that his work never got the recognition and success it deserved, that he was a much more “interesting” writer than his peers. Interesting can sometimes mean, “you’re not going to understand this…. You thickie!”. I began reading Long Time, No See. Immediately, I got a jolt: the words on the page were formatted like poetry and none of the dialogue was in inverted commas.  I was reluctant to continue as my eyes and brain were in for a different exercise regime. However, my desire to be a know-it-all won through and I’m so glad I persevered.  This is one of the best books I have ever read. Set in an Irish coastal rural community,it starts slowly with a young man visiting his grand uncle.

A Good Day to be an Irish Author!

John BanvilleEimear McBrideWednesday, 4th June, proved a good day for Irish fiction writing, as two authors were recipients of Awards on the international literary stage. First up was the announcement that John Banville had been conferred with Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. In so doing, he picks up a cash prize of €50,000. This award was established in 1981 by the soon to be King of Spain, Prince Felipe. The jury gave the award to John Banville (left, image source) "for his intelligent, insightful and original work as a novelist, and on his alter ego, Benjamin Black, author of disturbing, critical crime novels" (quote).

Next came the news that Eimear McBride had won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for her novel 'A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing'. The Award brings with it a cash prize of £30,000. Helen Fraser, chair of judges, says of McBride’s startling debut: "An amazing and ambitious first novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy. This is an extraordinary new voice – this novel will move and astonish the reader." In so doing, she beat off some stiff competition from the likes of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Donna Tartt, and fellow Irish shortlisted nominee Audrey Magee.

Two Irish Authors on Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction Shortlist

Baileys Women's Prize for FictionTwo Irish authors, Eimear McBride and Audrey Magee have been shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for their debut novels, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing and The Undertaking.

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride is a highly original novel that navigates complicated family relationships and memories using stream of consciousness. It was recently shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize and won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize 2013, a literary award for fiction that "opens up new possibilities for the novel form". Audrey Magee's The Undertaking, a powerful first novel set in Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II, is an intense portrayal of ordinary people pushed to do extraordinary things, setting in motion events that will have horrific consequences.

Also on the shortlist is Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche who won the award in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun.

Here's the full shortlist (with links to library catalogue):

2013 Irish Book Award Winners Announced

John BanvilleThe BORD GÁIS Energy Irish Book Award winners were announced last night.

Authors Roddy Doyle, Darina Allen, Paul Howard and Michael Harding were among the winners in the various categories.

Children’s writers Benji Bennett and Derek Landy, newcomer Niamh Boyce, crime writer Louise Philips, sports writer David Walsh, short story writer Billy O’ Callaghan and Fintan O’Toole were also honoured at the gala ceremony held in Dublin.

Esteemed novelist John Banville (left, image source) was presented with the 'Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award 2013' by actress Sinéad Cusack for his contribution to Irish literature, and a tribute to the late Seamus Heaney was screened during the ceremony which featured accolades from former US President Bill Clinton and Edna O’ Brien.

The Irish Crime Fiction Festival: A Virtual Who's Who of Irish Crime Authors

//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TrinityHof.JPGA festival devoted to Irish crime fiction, featuring some seventeen or so of the most exciting Irish and Irish-American crime novelists, takes place on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd November in Trinity College, Dublin. The festival concludes with the highlight event, best-selling American author Michael Connelly being interviewed by Irish crime writer John Connolly. The event marks the occasion of the Irish launch of his newest novel, 'The Gods of Guilt'. I for one have my ticket booked and I hope to get to attend most of the sessions during the festival.

Irish crime authors appearing are (with links to library catalogue entries):

Conor Brady. Probably best known as the former editor of The Irish Times and also a former member of the Garda Síochána (Police) Ombudsman Commission. Author of, amongst other works, two crime novels - 'A June of Ordinary Murders' and the just released 'The Eloquence of the Dead' (October 2013, not yet in stock).

Irish Crime Fiction in a Healthy State

Broken HarbourI've been meaning for so long to do a post or three on Irish crime fiction, and the weight of guilt for not so doing before now has finally proved enough of a catalyst to get me across that line, thankfully.

But where to start?  In light of the fact that the shortlist for the Irish Book Awards (IBA) "Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award" is to be announced on the 31st October, I thought I would start with a mention of what books published over the past year might find themselves in the running. I have to say in that regard that Declan Burke's 'Crime Always Pays' blog has been an invaluable jump-off point and is well worth a visit if you want to keep informed about the Irish crime fiction scene. Last year's IBA winner by the way ('Broken Harbour' by Tana French) was selected from a shortlist of six, and I will revisit last year's winner and shortlist on another occasion (and soon!).
(Update: 'Irregulars' by McCarthy added, 30 Oct.)

Irish Debut Novelists as Award Contenders

A Girl is a Half-Formed ThingWith the news just out that the debut novel of Irish author Eimear McBride has been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, I got thinking about how much of an impact Irish authors have been making of late, most particularly first-time novelists. Eimear's book, 'A Girl is a Half-formed Thing', had in fact been rejected by publishers for a good number of years until Galley Beggar Press took a chance on it, a book other publishers thought too experimental. And of course, appropriately enough, the new literary award that is the Goldsmiths Prize is awarded to fiction that "breaks the mould and opens up new possibilities for the novel form" (site quote).

CILIP Carnegie Greenaway 2013 Winners Announced Today

Maggot MoonThe CILIP Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenway Medal winners for 2013 have just been announced. The Carnegie Medal was won by Dyslexic author Sally Gardner with 'Maggot Moon' (published by Hot Key Books). In this tale, when his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of The Motherland.

The shortlist also included award-winning Irish author Roddy Doyle's 'A Greyhound of a Girl'. Read about the shortlist on previous blog post.

The Kate Greenway Medal was won by illustrator Levi Pinfold for only his second picture book, 'Black Dog' (published by Templar Publishing).

Michael Carroll Interviewed

The Last StarshipFor my "interview a genre author in Ireland" series I got Michael Carroll to answer my questions.

I've read a fair few of Michael's books over the years, most recently the Pelicos Trilogy, starting with the Last Starship and I've been enjoying it, however my husband has been loving it.  Michael has two websites, one concentrating on his Quantum Prophecy series and the other a more general website.  He's also written some Adult fiction as Jaye Carroll (I've read at least one, The Sweetest Feeling).

Christmas Holidays - time to curl up with a book...

I love the long, warm, bright summer evenings - but the long, chilly, dark winter evenings have their charms too, as long as I have something good to read. The girls in my house have stored up some special reads for those lazy days between Christmas and New Year. We've had to banish the chosen books from sight so we're not tempted to start reading immediately - there lies grave danger of no present buying, pudding making, tree trimming or other essential ingredients of Christmas.

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