Irish writers in running for big prizes and Yan Ge signs two-book deal with Faber

This week’s literary news and tomorrow’s books pages


In Saturday’s Irish Times, bestselling thriller writer Karin Slaughter talks to Catherine Conroy about Trump supporters, strong women, violence, rape and socially conscious storytelling. Eimear Ryan talks to Jennifer O’Connell abourt her debut novel, Holding her Breath. Reviews are Raymond Gillespie on The First Irish Cities: An Eighteenth-Century Transformation by David Dickson; Sarah Gilmartin on Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason; John Boyne on A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson; Paul Clements on local history; John Phipps on A Stinging Delight by David Storey; Helen Cullen on Still Life by Sarah Winman; Sarah Moss on Holding Her Breath by Eimear Ryan.


Brian McGilloway has been shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for The Last Crossing. McGilloway, who also teaches English in Holy Cross College, Strabane, was also shortlisted in 2010 for his second book, Gallows Lane.

McGilloway said: “It’s the book of mine most firmly rooted in Northern Ireland and our recent history, charting the journey of three members of a paramilitary cell, returning after 30 years to try to locate the body of a fourth member whom they killed, believing him an informer.”

The other shortlisted titles are: Rosamund Lupton’s Three Hours; Elly Griffiths with The Lantern Men; Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at The End; Abir Mukherjee’s Death in the East; and Trevor Wood’s The Man on the Street.

Votes can be cast at, with the winner announced on the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, July 22nd.


Stephen Sexton has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection for Cheryl’s Destinies, an exploration of how the fantastical can be comforting when reality is hard to bear, to be published by Penguin in August. He won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature 2020 for his debut collection If All the World and Love Were Young, as well as the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Shine/Strong Prize for Best First Collection, and the EM Forster Award. He also won the 2016 National Poetry Competition for a single poem.

Sexton is shortlisted along with A God at the Door by Tishani Doshi, who also won the debut prize, in 2006; Luke Kennard’s Notes on the Sonnets; Selima Hill’s Men Who Feed Pigeons; and Kayo Chingonyi’s A Blood Condition

The longlist for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, the only British literary award for a short story collection, has been announced, with six Irish authors out of the 15 chosen. They are: Kevin Barry; Adrian Duncan; Angela Graham; Rosemary Jenkinson; Louise Kennedy; and John O’Donnell.

The shortlist for the prestigious £10,000 prize, now in its 15th year, will be announced by September, with the winner announced in November.

The longlist

Alice Ash Paradise Block (Profile/Serpent’s Tail)

Annabel Banks Exercises in Control (Influx)

Kevin Barry That Old Country Music (Canongate)

Adrian Duncan Midfield Dynamo (Lilliput Press)

Angela Graham A City Burning (Seren)

Rosanna Hildyard Slaughter (Broken Sleep Books)

Rosemary Jenkinson Lifestyle Choice 10MG (Doire Press)

A L Kennedy We are Attempting to Survive our Time (Jonathan Cape)

Louise Kennedy The End of the World is a Cul-de-Sac (Bloomsbury)

Jo Lloyd The Earth, that Great Exchequer, Ready Lies (Swift Press)

Graham Mort Like Fado (Salt)

John O’Donnell Almost the Same Blue and other stories (Doire Press)

Alexandros Plasatis Made by Sea and Wood in Darkness (Spuyten Duyvil)

Fernando Sdrigotti Jolts (Influx)

Hannah Vincent She-Clown (Myriad Editions)

The 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing shortlisted writers have been announced, revealing five stories by authors Doreen Baingana (Uganda); Meron Hadero (Ethiopia); Rémy Ngamije (Namibia); Troy Onyango (Kenya) and Iryn Tushabe (Uganda).

The Chair of judges, Goretti Kyomuhendo said: ‘What comes across vividly in this year’s shortlisted stories, through their impressive craft and intelligent language is their ability to resonate profoundly with the reader. My fellow judges and I were reminded, once again, of the redemptive power of stories. These remarkable five narratives all exemplify, with delicacy and truth, what good fiction is.’

The stories are accessible here.


Faber is to publish the debut English language debuts by Chinese author Yan Ge, who lived in Ireland for several years and had her first story in English published in The Irish Times which led to her featuring in Being Various, the Faber anthology of Irish short stories edited by Lucy Caldwell.

Publishing director Angus Cargill described Ge’s short story collection Elsewhere as “unforgettable: made up of wild, exciting, disturbing stories about dispossession and ideas of home and identity. Set between contemporary Ireland and ancient China, Yan effortlessly takes you as the reader wherever she goes, between cultures and genres. Hotel Destination, the novel to follow, promises to be even wilder — a deep dive into the world of tomorrow and where we might be heading.”

Ge said: “I have been writing in Chinese for 18 years, and it took me a long time searching to find my voice in a new literary language. The stories in Elsewhere include a polyphony of voices, anti-dualistic propositions and characters whose identities are constantly in flux — this sense of perpetual displacement is what I want to continue to explore and celebrate in my fiction.

“It feels very much like a dream come true to have found a publisher in Faber, the perfect home for Elsewhere and Hotel Destination. The first book I read after moving to Ireland in 2015 was published by Faber and throughout the years, numerous Faber books have inspired and nurtured me. I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Angus Cargill and his wonderful colleagues at Faber to bring my new fiction into the world.”

Ge was born in Sichuan, China, in 1984. She is the author of 13 books in Chinese, including five novels, and was named by People’s Literature magazine as one of 20 future literature masters in China. Her work has been translated into 11 languages, most recently The Strange Beasts of China (Tilted Axis Press/Melville House, 2020). In 2019 she was on the judging panel of the International Dublin Literary Award.


Apeirogon by Colum McCann is one of 12 books longlisted for Goldsboro Books’ 2021 Glass Bell Award. Now in its fifth year, th eaward celebrates the best storytelling across contemporary fiction, regardless of genre.

The shortlist of six will be announced on August 5th, with the winner, who will receive £2,000 and a handmade, engraved glass bell, to be announced on September 30th.

Last year, Taylor Jenkins Reid won for Daisy Jones and the Six. Previous winners are Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne and VOX by Christina Dalcher.

The longlist is: The Sin Eater - Megan Campisi (Mantle); Blacktop Wasteland - S.A Cosby (Headline); The Girl With the Louding Voice - Abi Daré (Sceptre); The Familiar Dark - Amy Engel (Hodder & Stoughton); The Court of Miracles - Kester Grant (Harper Voyager); The First Sister- Linden Lewis (Hodder & Stoughton); Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton (Viking); Apeirogon - Colum McCann (Bloomsbury); The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman (Viking); Eight Detectives - Alex Pavesi (Michael Joseph); The Devil and the Dark Water - Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury Raven); People of Abandoned Character - Clare Whitfield (Head of Zeus).


Red Line Book Festival is calling on aspiring poets to submit their work for the 2021 Red Line Book Festival poetry competition. Details here.

Now in its ninth year, the prestigious competition attracts hundreds of entries from all across the island of Ireland annually. Monica De Bhailis’ Survivor was last year’s winning poem, which was subsequently featured on RTE’s The Poetry Programme.

The winning poet will win €300. There is also €200 for second place and €100 for third place. Shortlisted poets will be invited to read their poem as part of the festival, which runs from October 11th - 17th.

Award-winning poet Seán Hewitt will judge the competition entries this year. He said: “It’s such an exciting time for Irish poetry, and I can’t wait to read the work of Ireland’s new and aspiring poets.”

The closing date for entries is August 27th and entries will only be accepted by email. The shortlist will be announced on September 20th, with the winner announced during the festival.


Hilary Mantel has won the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction with The Mirror & the Light (Fourth Estate), 11 years after Wolf Hall won the inaugural award. Also shortlisted were The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte (HarperCollins Australia), A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville (Canongate), Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Headline) and The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Chatto & Windus).

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