Colum McCann’s Apeirogon on Orwell Prize shortlist; TV deal for Jane Casey

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a roundup of the latest book news

The Orwell Prize shortlists

The Orwell Prize shortlists


In Saturday’s books pages, Keith Ridgway talks to John Self about A Shock, his first book in a long time; Anne MacManus talks to Una Mullally about her debut novel, Mother Mother; and David O’Doherty talks to Patrick Freyne about his new children’s book.

Reviews are Una Mullally on Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor; Niamh Donnelly on Trouble by Philip Ó Ceallaigh; Catherine Taylor on the best new fiction in translation; Kevin Gildea on The Stranger Times by CK McDonnell; Claire Connolly on The Routledge International Handbook of Irish Studies, edited by Renée Fox, Mike Cronin and Brian Ó Conchubhair, and The New Irish Studies by Paige Reynolds; Joe Humphreys on A Hut at the Edge of the Village by John Moriarty, edited by Martin Shaw; Sarah Moss on Panenka, Rónán Hession; and Sarah Gilmartin on Malibu Rising by Taylor Reid.


Apeirogon by Colum McCann, his novel in fragments about the human cost of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. It was recently shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for last year’s Booker Prize.

The Orwell Prizes are awarded each year to the books and journalism which best meet Orwell’s own ambition to “make political writing into an art”. The prizes aim to encourage good writing and thinking about politics of a kind aimed at or accessible to the reading public.

The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction Shortlist 2021
Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah (Bloomsbury)
Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury)
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber)
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Bloomsbury)
Summer by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Dialogue Books)

The Orwell Prize for Political Writing Shortlist 2021
African Europeans: An Untold History by Olivette Otele (Hurst Publishers)
Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition and Compromise in Putin’s Russia by Joshua Yaffa (Granta)
Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by Barbara Demick (Granta)
English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks (Allen Lane)
The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery by Michael Taylor (Bodley Head)
Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care by Madeleine Bunting (Granta)
Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women by Christina Lamb (William Collins)

The winners of both prizes, which are each worth £3,000, will be unveiled on George Orwell’s birthday, June 25th, together with the winners of The Orwell Prize for Journalism and The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.


Novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Young Adult writer Patrice Lawrence have won the 2021 Jhalak Prize awards.

Makumbi, winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and 2018 winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction, won the fifth Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour for her ‘magnetic’ and ‘extraordinary’ novel, The First Woman (Oneworld). Lawrence, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and YA Book Prize, won the inaugural Jhalak Children’s and Young Adult Prize for her ‘richly textured’, ‘unapologetic celebration of teen culture’, Eight Pieces of Silva (Hachette Children’s).

Sony Pictures Television-backed Eleventh Hour Films has secured the screen rights to best-selling author Jane Casey’s new thriller The Killing Kind, published this week by HarperCollins. Zara Hayes and Jonathan Stewart will adapt The Killing Kind for screen.

Barrister Ingrid Lewis is used to dealing with tricky clients but no one has ever come close to John Webster. After defending Webster against a stalking charge, he then turned on Ingrid – destroying her life. Now Ingrid believes she has finally escaped, but when one of her colleagues is killed on a busy road, in a ‘hit and run’, Ingrid is convinced she was the intended victim. And then Webster shows up at her door. He claims she is in danger and that only he can protect her.

Casey said: “I am thrilled to be working with such an incredible team to bring The Killing Kind to TV. Zara and Jonathan’s creative response to the book is enormously exciting and I look forward to working with them, Paula Cuddy and the team at Eleventh Hour Films to tell Ingrid’s story in a new way.”


Picador is to publish Haven, a new novel by Emma Donoghue, the bestselling author of The Pull of the Stars and Room, in August 2022.

In a time of plague and terror, three men vow to leave the world behind them. They set sail in a small boat, in search of a lonely rock in the ocean. What they find is the extraordinary island now known as Skellig Michael.

Ravi Mirchandani, Editor in Chief at Picador, said: “My Picador colleagues and I are delighted to be publishing Emma Donoghue’s new novel, a story as strikingly and excitingly different from The Pull of the Stars, as that novel was from its predecessors. Haven takes the reader into the distant past and to the edges of the then known world, yet its deeply human concerns are as relevant to ours today as anything Emma has ever written. I very much look forward to being able to discuss this moving and thought-provoking novel with many more readers as we approach publication.”

Emmet Kirwan
Emmet Kirwan

HarperCollins Ireland is to publish playwright Emmet Kirwan’s as yet untitled debut novel in 2023.

Kirwan said: ‘My love of fiction has always informed how I see the world, and it has had an enormous impact on my playwriting and screenwriting work. There is a project that has been close to my heart for a number of years now, but I have never been able to pursue it. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all soon.”

Conor Nagle, publisher, HarperCollins Ireland, who pre-empted world all language rights from agent Lucy Luck. said: “Emmet is one of the most exciting literary and creative talents at work in Ireland today, and I can think of no better way of inaugurating our fiction list than by announcing the acquisition of his debut novel. As varied as his career has been to date, Emmet’s work has always demonstrated the most remarkable ear for dialogue, in all its variety and nuance, as well as an almost boundless creative ambition.”

Kirwan is an award-winning actor and playwright from Tallaght, Dublin. His play Dublin Oldschool won the Stewart Parker award for playwriting and he adapted the screenplay for the film version in 2018. He also wrote and starred in the RTÉ 2 comedy series Sarah and Steve


Berlin-based journalist Trish Lorenz has won the 2021/2022 Nine Dots Prize, receiving $100,000 and a book deal with Cambridge University Press for her “compelling and well-evidenced” response to the question: What does it mean to be young in an ageing world?

Lorenz’s winning essay argued that no question of what it means to be young in the 21st century should overlook the significant youth populations of sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Focusing on Nigeria – one of the youngest countries in the world, where more than 42 per cent of the population is under 14 years old –as a case study, she proposes to conduct in-depth interviews and discussions with the youth population.


The Irish Writers in London Summer School’s 25th anniversary was celebrated this week at the Irish Embassy. You can enjoy it here.

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