Listowel Writers’ Week has named Anne Enright’s The Green Road as winner ofthe Kerry Group Novel of the Year 2016 prize. Worth €15,000, it the largest prize for fiction available solely to Irish authors. The judges were novelists Rachel Cusk and Gerbrand Bakker.
The festival, which runs until June 5th, was opened last night by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon.
Enright, the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction, flew in from New York to receive her prize from Frank Hayes of sponsor Kerry Group. “The Kerry Group award for Irish fiction recognises the country’s brightest literary talent,” said Hayes. “This year’s shortlist included five fantastic novels that help to showcase Ireland’s proud literary tradition. Congratulations to all those who made the shortlist and most especially to Anne Enright.”
Enright joins an elite group of double winners of the award, The Gathering having won in 2008. It also won the Booker Prize. The Green Road, a bestseller as well as a critical success, has already won the Eason Book Club Novel of the Year award last November, was longlisted for the Man Booker and has been shortlisted for the £30,000 Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, which will be announced on Wednesday, June 8th.
The Green Road is the story of Rosaleen Madigan and her children, who leave the west of Ireland for lives in Dublin, New York and Africa. In her Irish Times review, Belinda McKeon wrote: “What Enright has done with this novel is fascinating. It is Irish, or rather Irish-novelly, in such an unashamed fashion – the Mammy, the home place, the emotionally banjaxed siblings, the booze and the boom and the pill and the pope – as to be provocative. It does not simply take on, but briskly and grinningly grabs hold of, all the stuff that, these days, seems too embarrassing to bring up at the dinner table of Irish fiction.”
Enright is also a distinguished critic. In The Irish Times this Saturday, she reviews Memory and Desire by Val Mulkerns and on June 11th reviews In Gratitudde by Jenny Diski.
The other shortlisted books were Austin Duffy’s This Living and Immortal Thing; The Blue Guitar by John Banville; Beatlebone by Kevin Barry; and Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs.
Eamonn Grennan won the €5,000 Pigott Poetry Prize for There Now. Sponsor Mark Pigott said: “It is a blessing to be able to support this wonderful literary award and recognize the leading poets of Ireland. I would like to congratulate our adjudicators, Gillian Clarke and Christopher Reid, for selecting this year’s shortlist which showcases the beauty, diversity and strength of Irish poetry”.
The John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award, in association with Mercier Press, was presented to author and historian the Very Rev Dr J Anthony Gaughan.