Three Irish on £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist

Eimear McBride on Encore Award shortlist; Gutter Bookshop shortlisted; Cork World Book Festival; Karl Whitney working on a hit; Connemara cultural retreat; Trinity treasure hunt


Three Irish writers – Kit de Waal, Karl Geary and Alan McMonagle - have made the 10-strong longlist for the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for the best debut novel. Now in its tenth year, it is named after a distinguished Irish literary agent. Past winners include Lisa McInerney and Eimear McBride.

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal has also been shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award. A shortlist will be announced on May 5th, and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on June 21st.

Desmond Elliott Prize 2017 longlist
Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Sceptre)
My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal (Viking)
Little Deaths by Emma Flint (Picador)
Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary (Harvill Secker)
The Transition by Luke Kennard (4th Estate)
Ithaca by Alan McMonagle (Picador)
The Sacred Combe by Thomas Maloney (Scribe UK)
They are Trying to Break Your Heart by David Savill (Bloomsbury)
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (Faber & Faber)
Forbidden Line by Paul Stanbridge (Galley Beggar Press)

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride has been shortlisted for the £10,000 RSL Encore Award 2017 for best second novel of the year, along with The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry; The North Water by Ian McGuire; The Lauras by Sara Taylor; Beast by Paul Kingsnorth; and The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan.

One of my favourite novels of 2016, it is the story of an 18-year-old Irish girl who arrives in London to study drama and falls violently in love with an older actor. McBride’s debut A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Desmond Elliott Prize, Goldsmiths Prize and Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award.

The winner will be announced on April 5th. Last year’s winner was The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota. Previous Irish winners of the award, first presented in 1990, are MJ Hyland for Carry Me Down (2007); Anne Enright for What Are You Like? (2001); Timothy O’Grady for I Could Read the Sky (1998); and Colm Tóibín for The Heather Blazing (1993).

Gutter Bookshop has been shortlisted for Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards, having secured the prize for the best independent bookshop in Ireland. The bookshop will now compete with seven other regional winners for the overall prize, with the winner revealed at an awards ceremony on Monday, May 8th at Grosvenor House in central London which will bring together authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians and literary agents for a night celebrating the entire book industry.  Sponsor Gardners Books will once again present the overall winner with a cheque for £5,000 prize, to be invested in the day-to-day running of the shop or potential improvements.

Gutter Bookshop was chosen for the regional prize by a panel of expert judges, who read testimonials by local customers submitted online to the BBA website. It trades from two sites in Temple Bar, Dublin and Dalkey, and has expanded into non-book stock such as children’s puppets and tote bags.

Cork City Libraries and Triskel Arts Centre stage the 13th Cork World Book Festival from April 18th to 23rd. Highlights include a tribute to Molly Keane. Her daughter Sally Phipps, author of Molly Keane: A Life, will be joined by her sister Virginia Brownlow and life-long fan Thomas McCarthy at the opening event. The last day of the festival, which is also Unesco World Book Day, concludes with a trip to Molly’s home in Ardmore.

There is a strong international dimension, with Slovenian writer Ales Steger, Turkish writer Ciler Ilhan, Florian Wacker (Germany) and Flavia Company (Argentina); The Stolen Child author Lisa Carey from the US. Anne Sebba, biographer, lecturer, journalist and author of Les Parisiennes, discusses women in France with Dr Mary Noonan of UCC. Writers and Critics will feature critics and novelists Eileen Battersby and Eibhear Walshe. Irish authors featured include Paul Howard, Ed O’Loughlin, Alannah Hopkin, Alan McMonagle and Billy O’Callaghan; crime writers Alex Barclay, Sam Blake and William Ryan; and poets John Fitzpatrick and Aidan Matthews.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson is to publish Karl Whitney’s Hit Factories: A Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop in 2019. His first book, Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin, a non-fiction exploration of his home city, was published by Penguin and was a Guardian book of the week.

Whitney, who has written about popular music and literature for The Irish Times and other major publications, tells the vibrant story of how the sound of British pop music was shaped by its industrial cities. “I thought I had misspent my youth by squandering countless hours listening to records and poring over the music press, but in retrospect I can see that I was actually researching Hit Factories,” Whitney said. “Pop music is such an intrinsic part of people’s everyday lives, and often so specific to a place and a time – I’m interested in examining that place and that time. Pop’s also an industry, one that took root in British cities during a period of wider industrial decline, and I want to investigate that too.”

Jacki Lyden, a radio presenter and contributor to NPR radio in the US, is hosting a memoir, photography and poetry retreat, entitled Love Comes in at the Eye, in Renvyle House Hotel, Connemara, from May 25 to June 1st. The name is from a poem by WB Yeats, who honeymooned there. The week includes photography workshops from award-winning Washington Post photojournalist Bill O’Leary, yoga, archaeological walks, music, and pub life. There will also be a link-up with the Connemara Environmental Conference. Details from

Trinity College Dublin academics Julie Bates and Rosie Lavan host Remapping Trinity: A Literary Atlas of the University, a two-day event on April 12th and 13th exploring ideas of place and space by exploring Trinity itself, and the buildings, objects, and stories which have shaped its past and present identities. The programme includes workshops, roundtable discussions, an original promenade performance and a specially curated audio tour. All events are free and all are warmly welcome.

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