€15,000 Irish Novel of the Year shortlist announced

Ann Keane of Listowel Writers Week with the shortlisted novels for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award. Photograph: Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

Ann Keane of Listowel Writers Week with the shortlisted novels for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award. Photograph: Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus


Colum McCann, Donal Ryan, Eimear McBride, Deirdre Madden and Frank McGuinness have been shortlisted for this year’s Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, whose €15,000 prize makes it the most lucrative available solely to Irish authors.

The shortlist was announced by this year’s adjudicators, author David Park and Eileen Battersby, Literary Correspondent of The Irish Times. More than 50 novels were submitted for the award.

Speaking about the shortlist, Park said, “Selecting a shortlist was an incredibly difficult task. Ireland continues to produce a wealth of writing that transcends age, gender and background. The high level of submissions is indicative of the cultural importance we continue to attribute to telling stories. Despite the challenges involved and the many close calls we believe we have arrived at a shortlist that embodies both contrasting styles and a consistency of quality.”

Established in 1995, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year is an annual award for Irish authors of fiction. Previous winners include Christine Dwyer Hickey, Neil Jordan, John Banville, Joseph O’Neill, Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry, John McGahern and in 2013 Gavin Corbett.

The winner will be announced at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Listowel Writers’ Week on Wednesday, May, 28th.

Now entering its 43rd year, Listowel Writers’ Week, which runs to June 1st, is Ireland’s longest running literary festival, renowned for bringing together international writers and audiences in the historical and intimate surroundings of Listowel, Co Kerry. Amongst those who will feature at this year’s festival will be Jim Crace, Aminatta Forna, Joseph O’Connor, Sinead Morrissey, Louise Doughty, Mary Lawson, Andy Kershaw, and many more.

The shortlist

Time Present & Time Past by Deirdre Madden

Madden is from Toomebridge, Co. Antrim. Her novels include The Birds of Innocent Wood, Nothing is Black, One by One in the Darkness, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and Authenticity. Her most recent novel is Molly Fox’s Birthday, which was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She teaches at Trinity College, Dublin and is a member of the Irish Arts Academy Aosdana.

A Girl is Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

McBride was born in 1976 in Liverpool to Irish parents. At 27 she wrote A Girl is a Half-formed Thing and spent many years thereafter trying to have it published. She moved to Cork in 2006, and Norwich in 2011, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She is working on her second novel. The novel has also been long-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

McCann is the author of six novels and two collections of stories. He has been the recipient of many international honours, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination.

Arimathea by Frank McGuinness

McGuinness is professor of creative writing in University College Dublin. A world-renowned playwright, his first great stage hit was the acclaimed Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme. This is his first novel.

The Thing About December by Donal Ryan

Ryan’s bestselling debut novel, The Spinning Heart, was voted Irish Book of the Year in 2012, was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize and won the 2013 Guardian First Book Award. The book has also been nominated for the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The Thing About December is Ryan’s second novel to be published but was the first boook he wrote.