A Good Day to be an Irish Author!

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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.

About John Banville

Ancient LightsThe Black-Eyed BlondeJohn Banville was born in Wexford in 1945, and has had a glittering literary career. He won the Booker Prize in 2005 for his novel 'The Sea' and he has also won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. In 2013 he was awarded the 'Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award' at the Irish Book Awards. His most recent novel is 'Ancient Light' (2012), a story of obsessive young love and the power of grief. He has also written a number of crime fiction books under the pen name Benjamin Black, the most recent being 'The Black-Eyed Blonde, a Philip Marlowe novel' (2014). Banville served for a time as literary editor of the Irish Times newspaper.

About Eimear McBride

A Girl is a Half-Formed ThingEimear McBride was born in 1976 in Liverpool to Northern Irish parents.  She moved to Ireland at the age of three with her parents and spent her childhood in counties Sligo and Mayo. At the age of seventeen she moved to London. 'A Girl is a Half-formed Thing' tells the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. It is a highly original novel that navigates complicated family relationships and memories using stream of consciousness. It recently won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, and in November 2013 the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize. It was also shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize. Amazingly, it spent some ten years on the shelf before being accepted by a publisher. 

Read about the Baileys Prize shortlist.

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