Two books that eloquently and movingly communicate the human cost of social breakdown and political failure have won the headline prizes at this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards, which were held at Convention Centre Dublin this evening.
My Fourth Time, We Drowned, by Sally Hayden, an investigation of the migrant crisis in north Africa and the West’s complicity in the maltreatment of refugees, was named nonfiction book of the year. Sally Rooney called the book, which has also won the Orwell Prize and Michael Déon Prize and been shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize, “the most important work of contemporary reporting I have ever read”.
Sally Hayden’s heart-stopping account of the plight of contemporary refugees is both a compelling epic and an intimate encounter with exact personal experience
“Sally Hayden’s heart-stopping account of the plight of contemporary refugees is both a compelling epic and an intimate encounter with exact personal experience. She achieves what all great writing hopes to do: the restoration of humanity to those who have been deprived of it,” said the Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole, a fellow winner of the Orwell Prize. Hayden reports from Africa for The Irish Times. My Fourth Time, We Drowned is her first book.
Trespasses, by Louise Kennedy, a shattering, blistering portrait of North Ireland at the height of the Troubles, with at its heart the doomed, tender and erotic love story of Cushla, a young Catholic teacher, and Michael, an older, married, left-wing Protestant barrister, won novel of the year. Kennedy’s debut short-story collection, The End of the World Is a Cul-de-Sac, won the John McGahern Prize for debut Irish fiction earlier this year. Trespasses is the first novel by Kennedy, a former chef who lives in Sligo and is originally from Holywood, Co Down.
“There are shades of John McGahern in Kennedy’s surgical decomposition of coincidence and its deathly operations, and of Ciaran Carson, the laureate of Belfast’s otherwise invisible cities,” Nicholas Allen wrote in his Irish Times review. “And it is hard too not to think of Anna Burns’s masterpiece, Milkman, as the nervous system to Kennedy’s bodily Trespasses.”
Alice Ryan won the newcomer of the year award for her novel, There’s Been a Little Incident. She is the daughter of the late Irish Times literary editor Caroline Walsh and the writer James Ryan. The arts journalist Edel Coffey won crime fiction book of the year for her debut novel, Breaking Point, while Marian Keyes won the award for popular fiction book of the year, for Again, Rachel, the sequel to her bestselling Rachel’s Holiday.
The Olympic boxing champion Kellie Harrington won sports book of the year for her memoir, Kellie, written with Roddy Doyle. The RTÉ reporter Charlie Bird, with Ray Burke, won biography of the year for Time and Tide. The Gutter Bookshop owner, Bob Johnston, won junior children’s book of the year for Our Big Day, illustrated by Michael Emberley. The footballer turned psychotherapist Richie Sadlier won the prize for teen and young adult book of the year for Let’s Talk.
Anne Enright, the inaugural laureate for Irish fiction, from 2015 to 2018, was presented with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a literary career spanning seven novels, three short-story collections, a memoir of motherhood and the 2007 Booker Prize, which she won for her fourth novel, The Gathering.
“Books represent the best of us as a nation,” David McRedmond, chief executive of An Post, said: “An Post is very proud to be associated with the Irish Book Awards. It’s wonderful to celebrate such great writers, illustrators, poets and bookshops from across the island. I congratulate the winners and all those who were shortlisted.”
Some wonderful books have been published this year, many by established literary stars but also by an astonishing number of talented newcomers who seem to spring fully formed on to the Irish literary scene every year
Brendan Corbett, chairperson of the awards, said: “Our industry has worked so hard to grow the awards from something quite small into the behemoth it has become today, and we are immensely proud of what we’ve achieved through a broad coalition of readers, writers, publishers, sponsors, booksellers and librarians.
“Some wonderful books have been published this year, many by established literary stars but also by an astonishing number of talented newcomers who seem to spring fully formed on to the Irish literary scene every year.”
The overall prize for Irish book of the year 2022 will be revealed in a one-hour special, hosted by Oliver Callan, on RTÉ One on December 7th.
An Post Irish Book Awards 2022: The winners
Novel of the year
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
Best Irish-published book of the year
An Irish Folklore Treasury by John Creedon
Nonfiction book of the year
My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden
Lifestyle book of the year
An Irish Atlantic Rainforest: A Personal Journey into the Magic of Rewilding by Eoghan Daltun
Cookbook of the year
The Daly Dish: Bold Food Made Good by Gina and Karol Daly
Sports book of the year
Kellie by Kellie Harrington, with Roddy Doyle
Biography of the year
Time and Tide by Charlie Bird, with Ray Burke
Children’s book of the year: junior
Our Big Day by Bob Johnston, illustrated by Michael Emberley
Children’s book of the year: senior
Girls Who Slay Monsters by Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald
Teen and young adult book of the year
Let’s Talk by Richie Sadlier
Irish bookshop of the year
Bridge Street Books, Wicklow
Irish language book of the year
EL by Thaddeus Ó Buachalla
Poem of the year
Wedding Dress by Martina Dalton
Short story of the year
This Small Giddy Life by Nuala O’Connor
Crime fiction book of the year
Breaking Point by Edel Coffey
Popular fiction book of the year
Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
Newcomer of the year
There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan
Author of the year