Elizabeth Reapy awarded Rooney Prize for Irish Literature
Mayo author wins €10,000 prize for emigrant novel ‘Red Dirt’
Elizabeth Reapy has been awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature 2017 at Trinity College Dublin today for her debut novel, Red Dirt. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix
Elizabeth Reapy has been awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature 2017 at Trinity College Dublin.The event this evening also paid tribute to its benefactors, the late Dan Rooney, a former US ambassador to Ireland and who died this year, and his wife Patricia.
The €10,000 prize is awarded for a body of work by a young Irish writer that shows exceptional promise. Literary agent Jonathan Williams, chair of the selection committee, said: “Although the prize is awarded to a writer on the basis of the literary excellence of a body of work, it is not unusual for it to be conferred when the writer has produced just a single book – as with Colin Barrett and Sara Baume. Elizabeth Reapy’s debut novel, Red Dirt, published in 2016, was reason enough for her to be chosen. The six members of the selection panel read work by 15 to 20 eligible writers, but were unanimous in their choice. Red Dirt is timely in its subject matter – the migration of Ireland’s young generation - inventively narrated in three voices, and displays a sure-footed mastery of the novel form.”
The Irish Times review said: “Red Dirt takes the modern Irish immigrant experience and turns it into a thought-provoking, vibrant novel that grips the reader from the start.”
Reapy, from Claremorris, Co Mayo, has a BA in English literature and history from NUI Galway, a diploma in education from University College Cork and an MA in creative writing from Queen’s University Belfast. In 2012 she was the Tyrone Guthrie Exchange Irish Writer in Residence in Varuna Writers’ House in New South Wales, Australia – a decisive appointment given the motifs of her novel. Red Dirt won the Newcomer of the Year at the 2016 Irish Book Awards.
Last year’s prize was won by poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa.