Four Irish authors, Booker and Pulitzer winners on Dublin Literary Award longlist

Colum McCann, Joseph O’Connor, Anne Griffin, Eibhear Walshe in for €100,000 prize


Libraries worldwide have nominated four Irish authors, two Booker Prize winners and a Pulitzer Prize winner for this year’s €100,000 Dublin Literary Award.

The longlist, which was announced this morning, includes 18 novels in translation with works nominated by libraries from 30 countries. It features 49 novels, including 10 debuts, significantly down on last year’s record of 156 titles, a consequence of the pandemic shutting libraries and a tightening of entry rules.

The Irish titles nominated are: Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor, Irish Novel of the Year in 2019; When All Is Said by Anne Griffin, the bestselling Irish debut of 2019; The Trumpet Shall Sound by Eibhear Walshe, a coup in particular for Somerville Press, the only Irish publisher on the longlist; and Apeirogon by Colum McCann, which was longlisted for last year’s Booker Prize. McCann won the award in 2011 for Let the Great World Spin.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Vietnamese-US author Ocean Vuong, chosen by libraries in Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Richmond and Washington in the US, received the most nominations. International Booker Prize shortlisted Hurricane Season by Mexican author Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes, was chosen by libraries in Canada, Mexico and the US; The Nickel Boys by US author Colson Whitehead, nominated by libraries in Belgium and Cleveland and Concord in the US.

Whitehead’s novel has already won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, his second in a row after The Underground Railroad, and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Also nominated are Girl, Woman, Other by 2019 Booker Prize joint winner Bernardine Evaristo; The Confessions of Frannie Langton, the 2019 Costa First Novel Award winner by Sara Collins; and the 2020 Rathbones Folio Prize winner, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli.

Surprisingly, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, and The Narrow Land by Chrstine Dwyer Hickey, winner of the 2020 Walter Scott Prize, were not longlisted. Of course, a strength of the prize is that it can champion novels that have been unfairly overlooked, such as the 2019 winner Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. A shame, then, that Actress by Anne Enright did not receive a nomination.

Michele Hutchinson, who won the 2020 International Booker Prize for her translation of The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, is nominated for her translation of Mona in Three Acts by Griet Op de Beeck.

Among the 18 translated books are novels originally published in Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovene and Spanish. Translated authors include Jon Fosse (Norwegian), Daniel Kehlmann (German), Herman Koch (Dutch), António Lobo Antunes (Portuguese), Nino Haratischwili (Georgian) and Fernando Aramburu (Spanish) and translators include Charlotte Collins, Sam Garrett, Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah, Ruth Martin and Benjamin Ross.

Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Dublin, said: “As patron of the award, I am extremely proud of the Dublin Literary Award as it affirms Dublin’s commitment to international writers and translators, to literature and creativity. It’s more important than ever that Dublin City Council does its best to support the Arts in such challenging times and the DUBLIN Literary Award is a huge statement of encouragement and support.”

Now in its 26th year, the award, which is sponsored by Dublin City Council, is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English. If the winning book has been translated, the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

The shortlist will be announced on March 25th and the winner revealed by Lord Mayor of Dublin on May 20th, as part of the opening day programme of International Literature Festival Dublin.

The award is managed by Dublin City Council’s library service. Mairead Owens, Dublin city librarian, thanked libraries worldwide for taking part and welcomed three new participants: Slemani Public Library in Iraq, South Dublin Libraries and District of Columbia Public Library in the US.

“Books and reading have sustained the human spirit during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “We escaped with our favourite authors to distant lands, we explored new cultures and we learnt new skills. Librarians are privileged to work in such a rewarding environment. Yes, we faced many challenges over the last year but we have risen to support our communities.”

The international panel of judges features Belfast-based author Jan Carson; David James Karashima, associate professor of creative writing at Waseda University in Tokyo; Lebanese-born, Dr Rita Sakr, who lectures in postcolonial and global literatures at Maynooth University; Dr Martín Veiga, a Galician poet, translator and academic who lectures in Hispanic studies at University College Cork; and Enda Wyley, an Irish poet and author. The non-voting chairperson is Chris Morash, the Seamus Heaney professor of Irish writing at Trinity College Dublin.

The publishing period of the nominated novel has been extended by six months, which means novels first published in English from January 1st, 2019 up to June 2020 are eligible for the 2021 award. All the novels nominated will be available for readers to borrow from public libraries when they reopen. Some are available on the free Borrowbox app.

Anna Burns won last year’s prize for her third novel, Milkman.

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