Irish authors in running for several major prizes

A round-up of the latest news and a preview of Saturday’s books pages

In Saturday’s Irish Times, Lisa McInerney talks to me about her new novel, The Rules of Revelation. Louise Nealon talks to Edel Coffey about her debut novel, Snowflake; and Rachel Donohue writes about heatwaves in literature, a feature of her second novel, The Beauty of Impossible Things.

Reviews include Eoin Ó Broin on a range of books addressing the Covid-19 pandemic; Jonathan McAloon on Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor; Seán Hewitt on the best new poetry; Helen Cullen on Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts; Geoff Roberts on Stalin’s War: A New History of the Second World War by Sean McMeekin; Brigid Laffan on Reclaiming the European Street by President Michael D Higgins; Rebecca Pelan on My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland; Sarah Gilmartin on The Child by Kjersti A Skomsvold.

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is this weekend’s Irish Times book offer at Eason’s. You can save €6 on its normal cover price when you buy the paper at any branch.

Caoilinn Hughes has been shortlisted for the £10,000 RSL Encore Award for best second novel for The Wild Laughter. Judged by Nikita Lalwani, Paul Muldoon and Sian Cain, the prize’s winner will be announced on May 20th.

Hughes is one of two One World authors shortlisted, along withThe First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. The shorltist is completed by Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury); Should We Fall Behind by Sharon Duggal (Bluemoose Books); and The Blind Light by Stuart Evers (Picador).

Previous recipients include Sally Rooney, Lisa McInerney, MJ Hyland, Tim O’Grady, Ali Smith, Anne Enright, AL Kennedy,Colm Tóibín and last year’s winner Patrick McGuinness.

Hughes’ first novel, Orchid & the Wasp, won the Collyer Bristow Prize 2019 and was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Awards. The Wild Laughter was longlisted for the 2021 Dylan Thomas Prize. She holds a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington and is currently the Oscar Wilde Centre Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.


Susannah Dickey and Gráinne Murphy have been longlisted for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, the world’s richest in the field with a prize of £30,000. Last year’s winner was Niamh Campbell and Danielle McLaughlin won in 2019.

There are nine women and eight American writers on the longlist, including Boston Irish author Elizabeth McCracken whose story, The Irish Wedding, is set in the west of Ireland. Also longlisted are: Rabih Alameddine; Jamel Brinkley; Susan Choi; Laura Demers; Louise Erdrich; Rachael Fulton; Jonathan Gibbs; Allegra Goodman; Rachel Heng; Daniel Mason; Adam Nicolson; and Mark Jude Poirier.

The shortlist will be announced on June 6th and the winner on July 8th.

“We always judge blind in this award and have no idea about author identity or nationality when we are reading,” said judge and Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate. “So for American writers to feature so strongly this year, as they have done throughout the competition’s 12-year history, says something significant about the quality of short story writing in the US. The prize, because of that blind reading, also has a proud history of discovering new talent – including Sally Rooney and Louise Kennedy – and I’m particularly excited by the new voices sitting on this list alongside some very well-established names.”

The other judges are authors Yiyun Li; David Mitchell; Curtis Sittenfeld; and Romesh Gunesekera.

Dickey was born in Belfast, grew up in Derry and lives in southeast London. Her debut novel, Tennis Lessons, was published last year by Doubleday. Her second poetry pamphlet, genuine human values (The Lifeboat, 2018), won the 2019 Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. Her most recent poetry pamphlet, bloodthirsty for marriage (Bad Betty Press, 2020), received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. She holds an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths College, and is doing a PhD in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre.

Murphy’s debut novel, Where the Edge Is, was published last September and her second, The Ghostlights, will be released this September, both with Legend Press. Her short fiction has appeared in the Fish Anthology 2020 (Safekeeping), the RiPPLE Anthology 2017 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub), the Irish Literary Review (Frank & Alfie) and Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace).


Several Irish crime writers have been longlisted for Britain’s premier crime novel award, the Theakston Old Peculier, alongside household names such as Ian Rankin and Val McDermid. Jane Casey, Liz Nugent, Brian McGilloway and former winner Steve Cavanagh are in contention for the prize. The shortlist will be announced in June and the winner on July 22nd, at the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, with the public able to vote for the winner on

The full longlist is: Cry Baby by Mark Billingham; The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish; The Cutting Place by Jane Casey; Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh; Black River by Will Dean; Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan; The Guest List by Lucy Foley; The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths; The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone; Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton; Still Life by Val McDermid; The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway; Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee; Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent; A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin; Remain Silent by Susie Steiner; We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker; and The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood.


As part of the European Book Club 2021 series, The Instituto Cervantes Dublin will host a discussion on May 6th at 6pm on A Luminous Republic by Spanish writer Andrés Barba, translated into English by Lisa Dillman. The author will chat with journalist Antonio Jaén. A Q&A with the audience will follow. Click here.

Meath County Council has appointed local author Fiona Sherlock as writer in residence for 2021. The residency runs from April to December.

Sherlock, a crime writer from Bective, released two murder mysteries during the lockdown. Preserved, a modern murder mystery, is published by Poolbeg. Twelve Motives for Murder is an immersive murder mystery experience published in audio and ebook by Hodder Studios. Sherlock will host a series of public workshops and events, including two events for children and young adults for this year’s Cruinniú na nÓg festival.

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