Preti Taneja wins Desmond Elliott Prize

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Desmond Elliott Prize winner Preti Taneja. Photograph: Louise Haywood-Schiefer/ Desmond Elliott Prize/ PA

Desmond Elliott Prize winner Preti Taneja. Photograph: Louise Haywood-Schiefer/ Desmond Elliott Prize/ PA


Preti Taneja has been awarded the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize for her debut novel, We That Are Young. The work re-imagines Shakespeare’s King Lear, setting it in contemporary India. The novel takes the play’s central themes and juxtaposes them against the 2011 anti-corruption riots in India.

In her Irish Times review, Sarah Gilmartin called it “a remarkable picture of contemporary India”. “For a relatively new writer, she is a master of ambivalence... [T]he strong ethical sense to her writing is subtly incorporated in her novel through character and action.”

Before turning to fiction, Taneja worked as a human rights correspondent, reporting on Iraq, Rwanda and Kosovo, and writing for the Guardian, the New Statesman and Open Democracy.

Taneja’s triumph is the second time Norwich-based publisher Galley Beggar Press has produced the winner of this prestigious award. Eimear McBride’s A Girl was a Half-Formed Thing won in 2014.

Authors Gail Honeyman (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) and Paula Cocozza (How to Be Human) were also shortlisted.

The Irish Writers Centre is launching a new initiative, the Ambassador Series, with guests Marian Keyes and Tara Flynn. The series is intended to introduce audiences to the centre’s ambassadors and fundraise for the centre’s development of an online creative writing strand. This project seeks to make the centre more inclusive and enable a more diverse audience to access creative writing courses, particularly those who cannot access the building in Dublin’s Parnell Square.

Marian Keyes has been at the forefront of Ireland’s literary scene since the success of her first novel, Watermelon (1995), with 13 novels translated into 36 languages and 40 million copies sold. She will be interviewed at 7pm, on Thursday, June 28th, by fellow author, comedian and actor Tara Flynn, whose collection of essays Rage-In: The Trolls and Tribulations of Modern Life was published this month.

The 2018 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize has been awarded to Irish-Canadian writer Joanna Pocock, for her work Surrender. Influenced by her time in Montana, it examines the changing landscape of the west and the scavenger, rewilder and ecosexual communities.

The competition awards British and Irish writers who have yet to secure a publishing deal for submission of a book-length essay. Pocock will receive a £3,000 advance for publication with Fitzcarraldo Editions; she will also be granted residency at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy for up to three months to develop Surrender. Pocock was shortlisted for the Barry Lopez Narrative Nonfiction Prize in 2017.

The competition seeks to reward essay writers for challenging formulaic conventions and exploring the possibilities of essay writing. Out of the 68 proposals put forward, six were chosen to be shortlisted, including Irish writer Rachel Andrews for A Woman’s Place, which utilised personal experience to interrogate what it means to exist as a female body in a contemporary domestic environment.

Poetry Ireland has released details of its summer series The Heart of Summer. The event will be introduced by Olivia O’Leary and held in association with the Office of Public Works. Three historic Irish residences will host the festivities: Emo Court, Portarlington, Co Laois, on Saturday, July 7th, at 6pm; Glebe House and Gallery, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, at 8 pm on Wednesday, July 11th; and Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, Co Kerry, on Friday, July 13th, at 8pm . Poetry Ireland is also calling on people to join them in 11 Parnell Square on Monday, June 25th at 6pm for the announcement of UCC’s new partnership with Poetry Aloud.

Married to Alzheimer’s: A Life Less Ordinary with Tony Booth by Steph Booth, which arose from her Irish Times column of the same name, is to be developed into a memoir and published next February by Rider Books. The highly regarded column detailed Booth’s experiences caring for her husband, veteran British actor Tony Booth, after he developed Alzheimer’s.

A plaque dedicated to The Crane Bar, a newly published poem by poet Tom French, has become the latest addition to the Galway Poetry Trail. The trail consists of a series of 21 poems and writings scattered across Galway to create a literary trail, each emblematic of their locations. The dedication can be found in the famous music pub of that name on Sea Road, Galway city. The trail includes works from writers such as Pádraic Ó Conaire, Moya Cannon, Máire Holmes and Seámus Heaney. For more information visit

Dalkey’s guided walk celebrating Maeve Binchy and other famous Irish writers is back and runs until the end of September. It begins at the Writers’ Gallery at Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre. Those who participate can look forward to hearing snippets of work from Maeve, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien among others. The walk lasts just under an hour and is fully microphoned to the lead tour guide for ease of listening. Times for groups must be organised in advance. Tickets are €12.50. To book, telephone 01 2858366 or email

The second annual Hinterland Festival is running from June 21st to 24th, gathering together writers and public commentators in Kells, Co Meath. This year guests include Colm Tóibín, John Banville, Lisa McInerney, Liz Nugent, Frank McGuinness, Maggie O’Farrell and Michael Harding. For budding historians, Catriona Crowe will celebrate the ‘second wave’ feminists of the Liberation Movement in ‘Remembering 1968’ and Prof Glen Gendzel from San Jose State University will unravel myths surrounding the Vietnam War.

Trinity College Dublin is holding a nationwide Book of Kells competition. It asks participants to garner inspiration from the famous manuscript to produce a creative work. This year judges are seeking innovative interpretations of the animals in the Book of Kells. The competition is open to all and is divided into two categories. The first is an art competition which allows participants to use drawing, sketch or painting to compose their entry. The second is a writing competition, which consists of poetry or short stories focused on the manuscripts animals. Prizes for each age category (primary, secondary, adult) include cash, VIP trips, certificates of merit and a special invitation to the awards ceremony in Trinity College Dublin.

Further information about the competition is available on, and the closing date is November 30th.

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