Shortlists for Dalkey Literary Awards 2021 revealed

€30,000 prize fund for Irish writers to be awarded at Dalkey Book Festival in June

The vitality and variety of contemporary Irish writing is reflected in two remarkably strong shortlists for this year’s Dalkey Literary Awards.

The field for the €20,000 Novel of the Year award includes Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US, and Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan, winner of the An Post Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year.

Also in contention are two Booker Prize winners, Anne Enright for Actress and Roddy Doyle for Love, and Colum McCann’s Booker-longlisted and International Dublin Literary Award-shortlisted Apeirogon. The inclusion of Irish Times columnist Hilary Fannin’s debut novel The Weight of Love is recognition both of its brilliance and her award-winning record as a journalist and playwright.

The €10,000 Emerging Writer award shortlist also features an Irish Times columnist, Patrick Freyne, for his moving and funny essay collection, OK Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea, as well as Irish Times poetry critic Seán Hewitt for his beautiful poetry collection, Tongues of Fire.


Teenager Dara McAnulty is included for his nature memoir Diary of a Young Naturalist, which has already won the Wainwright Prize for nature writing and Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.

The emergence of a brilliant generation of Irish women writers is reflected in the shortlisting of The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes, As You Were by Elaine Feeney and Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan, all of which have also featured on numerous prize shortlists.

Home-grown talent

The winners will be announced as part of the Dalkey Book Festival, which will return – virtually – from June 18th to 20th. Róisín Ingle, Paschal Donohoe and Sinéad Gleeson will choose the Novel of the Year, while Dearbhail McDonald, Aideen Howard and Declan Hughes will pick the Emerging Writer.

Sian Smyth, director of the festival, said: “The Dalkey Book Festival and our partners Zurich [Insurance] are so proud to support Irish writers and Irish writing with this significant €30,000 prize fund again this year, and while many of those shortlisted are household names, it’s wonderful to see the breadth of exciting, new home-grown talent too.

“While the cultural sector has been decimated over the last 12 months, thankfully books have had a good year. 2020 saw Ireland’s strongest print book sales in more than a decade with sales up around 10 per cent; we’d like to think that books have provided solace, companionship, entertainment and a glimmer of hope for readers across all genres.

“We were devastated having to cancel the festival last year so this year, we are determined to bring our loyal festival supporters a 2021 Dalkey Book Festival to remember, and we’re so excited to have the winner announcements as part of this year’s programme.”

Novel of the Year

Actress by Anne Enright

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan

The Weight of Love by Hilary Fannin

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Love by Roddy Doyle

Emerging Writer

The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty

As You Were by Elaine Feeney

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

OK Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea by Patrick Freyne

Tongues of Fire by Seán Hewitt