Sally Rooney conquers all as boxers and gamblers bounce back in sports awards

A sneak preview of Saturday’s books pages

Irish Novel of the Year winner Sally Rooney and Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns at the An Post Irish Book Awards. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

Irish Novel of the Year winner Sally Rooney and Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns at the An Post Irish Book Awards. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

 

Like Houdini in reverse, I managed to fight and wriggle my way back into my tuxedo again this week just in time to make this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards, where Sally Rooney won Novel of the Year for her second novel, Normal People, a week after being voted international author of the year at Britain’s Specsavers National Book Awards. Today she won Waterstones book of the year and she is also on the Costa Novel of the Year shortlist alongside Donal Ryan. Read all about the awards here.

Women writers dominated this year’s awards, including the sports book of the year award, long a male preserve, which was won by Cora Staunton. The contrarian in me could not help but wonder, however, how long the odds might have been on a book about a gambler who stole €1.75 million from An Post going on to win Nonfiction Book of the Year at the An Post awards. Tony 10 by Tony O’Reilly with Declan Lynch was also shortlisted for the eir sports book of the year along with Fighter by Andy Lee with Niall Kelly and The Lost Soul of Eamonn McGee by Paul D Gibson. The latter, published by Mercier Press, this week shared the £30,000 William Hill Sports Book of the Year A Boy in the Water, by Tom Gregory. Yet it did not even make the Bord Gáis Sports Book of the Year shortlist. That’s gas.

In Saturday’s Irish Times, 26 leading figures choose their books of 2018, Siobhan Parkinson says her children’s book Rocking the System is not primarily about offering role models for Irish girls but is about writing fearless Irish women back into the history they did so much to change. Chris Kissane looks at how diplomatic papers from the 1950s were dominated by balancing trade and other relationships with Britain, the North and Europe. Plus ca change. And critic of the year Richard Pine gives the side-eye to distinctions between highbrow and popular fiction.

Reviews include Jonathan Coe on Heroic Failure by Fintan O’Toole; Diarmaid Ferriter on Michael Collins: The Man and the Revolution by Anne Dolan and William Murphy and The Fight for Irish Freedom by Michael B Barry; Susan McKay on Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad; Eoin McNamee on The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman; Seán Hewitt on Winter Papers, volume four of the annual arts anthology; and Truth and Dare by Martina Devlin; Jonathan McAloon on Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif; Sarah Gilmartin on The Wooden Hill by Jamie Guiney; Ed Power on A Brilliant Void: A Selection of Classic Irish Science Fiction, edited by Jack Fennell; Niamh Puirséil on The Impact of the Troubles on the Republic of Ireland, 1968-79 by Brian Hanley; Julie Parsons on The Aloe by Katherine Mansfield; and Declan Burke on new crime fiction by Kevin McCarthy, Tanya Farrelly, Fiona Gartland, Nessa O’Mahony and Jack Taylor.

Fiona and Fintan, along with Dean Ruxton, Ronan McGreevy, Sorcha Pollak and Ann Ingle, who ghostwrote Rosemary Smith's autobiography. will be signing copies of their new books at the books stall at the Irish Times Christmas Fair on Sunday, December 9th, from 11am to 1.30pm. Book lovers and bargain hunters should put the date in their diary as we shall be selling hundreds of brand new books at bargain bin prices, with all proceeds going to charity.

Speaking of bargains, you can buy Dead if You Don’t by Peter James for €4.99, that’s €3 off, when you buy The Irish Times in any Eason store this weekend.

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