Five Irish on Orwell Prize shortlists; Sally Hayden also on Michel Déon list

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

In The Irish Times this Saturday, Ardal O’Hanlon talks to his fellow Carrickmacross native Frank McNally about his new Border-set novel, Brouhaha. Reviews are Declan Kiberd on Annotations to James Joyce’s Ulysses by Sam Slote, Marc A Mamigonian and John Turner; Niamh Donnelly on Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez; Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction; Helen Cullen on The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; Carmel McMahon on Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos; Una Mullally Enough: the Violence Against Women and How to End It by Harriet Johnson; Brian Dillon on Negative Space by Cristín Leach; Paul Clements on local history books; and Sarah Gilmartin on Mean Baby by Selma Blair.


Sally Hayden has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing for her book about the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean, My Fourth Time, We Drowned, while two other Irish authors are on the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction shortlist: Claire Keegan for Small Things Like These and Audrey Magee for The Colony.  Glenn Patterson and Conor Garrett have made the Orwell Prize for Journalism shortlist for their work for BBC Radio 4 & BBC Sounds.

The Orwell Prize for Political Writing finalists are a mixture of established names and debut authors, writing from a variety of perspectives. They take us from Rwanda to Orwell’s Hertfordshire garden, and the earliest human societies to a global community adapting to a new pandemic, and covers issues as diverse as migration, colonialism, consent and social care, to name a few. The full list is:

Behind Closed Doors by Polly Curtis (Virago)

The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow (Penguin)

Spike by Jeremy Farrar and Anjana Ahuja (Profile)

My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden (Harper Collins)

Uncommon Wealth by Kojo Karam (John Murray)

Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller (Canongate)

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit (Granta)

The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Shutdown by Adam Tooze (Viking)

Do Not Disturb by Michela Wrong (Harper Collins/4th Estate)

The nine authors on the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction list are all first-time Orwell Prize nominees. Chair of judges Adam Roberts said that what all these brilliant novels have in common, and what so impressed the judges, was the various ways they explored the politics of everyday life: personal, racial, linguistic, familial, environmental. The full list of finalists is:

Cwen by Alice Albinia (Serpent’s Tail)

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta)

Assembly by Natasha Brown (Hamish Hamilton)

The High House by Jessie Greengrass (Swift Press)

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Faber)

The Colony by Audrey Magee (Faber)

Appliance by J.O. Morgan (Jonathan Cape)

there are more things by Yara Rodrigues Fowler (Fleet)

Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner (Peninsula Press)

The Orwell Festival of Political Writing, sponsored by Substack and in association with the Institute of Advanced Studies at UCL, will run between June 22nd and July 14th, featuring many of the finalists, alongside other important political writers. Participants already announced include Rebecca Solnit, Dominic Cummings (in his first public event since leaving 10 Downing Street), Joshua Yaffa and Ali Smith, with many more speakers to be announced shortly. The prizes, which are worth £3,000 each, will be announced at the closing ceremony of the festival on July 14th.

The Royal Irish Academy in association with the Department of Foreign Affairs has announced the six shortlisted titles for the 2022 Michel Déon Prize for nonfiction.

The six books on the shortlist are:

Imagining Ireland’s Pasts: Early Modern Ireland through the Centuries by Nicholas Canny (Oxford University Press)

My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden (4th Estate, Harper Collins)

Unsettled by Rosaleen McDonagh (Skein Press)

Northern Protestants: On Shifting Ground by Susan McKay (Blackstaff Press)

A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)

Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Stories by Sophie White (Tramp Press)

Titles were nominated by both the public and publishing community through the RIA’s website and the judging panel made their choice from the eligible titles. In shortlisting the titles the judges were looking for originality; quality of writing and contribution to knowledge and/or public debate.

To reflect the work and interests of the French writer Michel Déon, who made Ireland his home from the 1970s until his death in 2016, the eligible categories for the prize were: autobiography, biography, cultural studies, history, literary studies, philosophy, travel. Authors of any nationality normally resident on the island of Ireland at the time of nomination who had published a non-fiction book in the period April 1st, 2020 to April 12th, 2022 were eligible.

Prof Michael Cronin, chair of the judging panel, said: “This year we received a very large number of submissions and the originality and range of non-fictional writing in Ireland at present is evident in the outstanding quality of the titles on the Michel Déon Prize shortlist.”

The €10,000 prize for the winning author is sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the winner will be announced at the award ceremony on September 15th.

Emer O’Hanlon is the 2022 winner of the inaugural Stinging Fly/FBA Fiction Prize. The €2,000 prize, sponsored by Felicity Bryan Associates, will be awarded annually to an emerging fiction writer published in The Stinging Fly during the previous year. O’Hanlon’s winning story, Diana in a lonely place, was published in The Stinging Fly’s Summer 2021 issue. She will be presented with the award at The Stinging Fly Summer Party at the International Literature Festival Dublin on May 26th.

Judging the 2022 prize were author Colin Barrett (Homesickness), Stinging Fly contributing editor and author Mia Gallagher (Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland) and Felicity Bryan agent, Angelique Tran Van Sang. The panel was chaired by Thomas Morris, author (We Don’t Know What We’re Doing) and editor-at-large of The Stinging Fly.

Awarding the prize, the judges stated: ;”A scorching, confounding story that resists easy choices, Emer O’Hanlon’s Diana in a lonely place is a work of exceptional accomplishment. With great skill, subtlety and humanity, it weaves and subverts core elements of the classic short-story form, examining the intersection between our online and offline selves from surprisingly fresh angles. Brutal and beautiful in its execution, the story pushes up against what is comfortable, entangling the reader in a complicity that lays bare the starkest and rawest elements of human connection.”

The judges also commended two further stories: The Baby by Jacinta Mulders (Australia) and The Strange Kid by Glen Jeffries (UK).

Diana in a lonely place, along with a special author note, can be read on The Stinging Fly’s website.

O’Hanlon said: “As a new writer balancing studies and work with writing, I never feel that I’m doing ‘enough’. This prize has come at a time when I have been struggling to carve time for my writing as well as figure out which direction I should go in next. The professional (not to mention financial!) backing of this award feels game-changing. I considered it a huge privilege to be published in the journal at all last year; to receive such an endorsement from The Stinging Fly, whose publications I am in awe of and whose ethos I admire, is really special and exciting.”

FBA said: “We are excited to be partnering with The Stinging Fly, whose dedication to discovering, nurturing and championing writers aligns so closely with the values that FBA has long upheld. It’s important to us as a company to support the work of literary magazines that are vital in providing writers both a platform, and a space to develop and hone their work - and The Stinging Fly’s reputation is second to none. We are thrilled to be awarding the inaugural prize to Emer O’Hanlon, and look forward to celebrating her win, and the beginning of this brilliant partnership.”

The Stinging Fly said: “This exciting partnership with FBA helps us celebrate and illuminate the brilliant new writers and new writing that we are privileged to publish each year. Choosing one story from all the wonderful stories we published in 2021 was an enormously difficult task and we’re grateful to our judges for bearing that pain on our behalf. Diana is a lonely place is a superb work of fiction, and Emer a very worthy winner of our inaugural prize. We’re sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from this gifted writer. Looking forward, The Stinging Fly is eager to develop further initiatives that will help support writers at all stages of their careers, and allow us to continue in our mission to seek out, nurture, publish and promote the very best new writers and new writing.”

O’Hanlon is from Belfast and grew up in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Her short fiction has been published by The Honest Ulsterman, and The Cormorant (forthcoming). She was longlisted for the 2021 VS Pritchett Short Story Prize. She is a PhD candidate in classics at Trinity College Dublin. Sheis the daughter of Sunday Independent journalist Éilis O’Hanlon and Ian McConnell. who have co-authored, four novels under the pen name Ingrid Black.


Chris Fitzpatrick will be promoting his debut collection, Poetic Licence in a Time of Corona, at The Village Bookshop, Terenure (June 1st, 7pm); Khans Books, Kilkenny ( June 9th, 5pm); James Joyce Library, Belfield, UCD (June 11th, 12-2pm); Woodbine Books, Kilcullen, Kildare (June 23rd, 5pm); and The Book Centre, Waterford (July 14th, 5pm).


Dublin City Council recently announced the shortlist of the 2022 Dublin Literary Award, the world's most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction. Explore the shortlist through a series of videos at DublinCityLiterature – YouTube where excerpts are read from: Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey read by Seána Kerslake, At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, trans. by Anna Moschovakis read by Johnny Ward, The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi read by Emmanuel Okoye, The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin read by Seána Kerslake, Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson read by Cathy Belton and The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter, trans. by Frank Wynne read by Emmanuel Okoye.

The winner of the Dublin Literary Award will be announced on May 23rd, as part of the programme of the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFDublin).

Halfway up the Stairs bookshop in Greystones, Co Wicklow, is launching a summer event series featuring some of Ireland’s top children’s writers and illustrators. Shane Hegarty launches his new children’s book, The Shop of Impossible Ice Creams, on Saturday, June 11th at 4pm. Saturday storytimes take place every Saturday at 11am to 11.30am. No booking required - just drop in!

Woof, Woof! It’s Murphy the Dog! Storytime and Draw Along with Muireann Ní Chíobháin and Paul Nugent , author and illustrator of Murphy’s Law, a picturebook about a very unlucky dog, take splace on Saturday, May 28th, 11am to 11.40am . Owner Trish Hennessy, says: ‘We are really excited to welcome some of Ireland’s top children’s writers and illustrators to Halfway up the Stairs, and to introduce them to our young readers.’ Sarah Webb, events manager, says, ‘Live book events are a brilliant way of encouraging and supporting young readers. Want to raise a child who loves to read? Look no further. There’s something for every child in our summer events season.’