Sara Baume awarded Rooney Prize for Irish Literature

Author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither has also won Davy Byrnes Award and Hennessy New Irish Writer Award and been longlisted for Guardian First Book Award


The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for 2015 has been awarded to Sara Baume in recognition of her outstanding achievement as a fiction writer. The announcement was made by the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast, at a reception in the Provost’s House.

Now in its 39th year, the Rooney Prize is a highly regarded award recognising a body of work by a young Irish writer that shows exceptional promise. Notable past recipients include Bernard Farrell, Neil Jordan, Frank McGuinness, Hugo Hamilton, Anne Enright, Mark O’Rowe, Claire Keegan and Colin Barrett.

The prestigious award is given annually to an emerging Irish writer under forty years of age, through the generosity of Dr Daniel Rooney, president emeritus of the Pittsburgh Steelers who recently served as US ambassador to Ireland, and his wife Patricia Rooney. The award is administered by the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing at the School of English at Trinity whose committee is co-chaired by Prof Gerald Dawe.

Commenting on the author’s achievement, Prof Emeritus Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin said: “Sara Baume’s debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, is a powerful, persuasive evocation of two isolated lives, human and animal. As the narrative unfolds, these lives interact with places and seasons, with people remembered, remotely seen, tentatively or traumatically encountered, to create a whole convincing world, and a mesmerising story.”

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The novel was published by Tramp Press and has just been released in Britain by Windmill Books. It has been longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. In 2014 she won the Davy Byrnes Award and earlier this year won the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award.

Baume flew home from her residency with the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa to receive the award. The author was born in Lancashire and grew up in Co Cork. She studied Fine Art at Dún Laoghaire College of Art and Design before completing a Master’s in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin.

The prize selection committee was made up of Dawe, Ní Chuilleanáin, poet, critic and editor (Professor Emerita, School of English, TCD); Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, novelist andlecturer in creative writing at UCD); author Carlo Gébler; Dr Riana O’Dwyer , lecturer in English at NUI Galway; and literary agent and editor Jonathan Williams.