Una Mannion, Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin and Tish Delaney recognised for major awards

A preview of Saturday’s books pages and a round-up of the latest literary news

Una Mannion, who has added the Kate O'Brien Award to her Hennessy literary award

In The Irish Times this Saturday, Colin Barrett writes about his new collection, Homesickness. Lucy Foley tells Catherine Conroy why crime fiction is being taken more seriously now. Reviews are Patrick Freyne on Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott; Mia Levitin on These Days by Lucy Caldwell; Declan Hughes on the best new crime fiction; Sean Duke on Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution and the Female Animal by Lucy Cooke; Sharon Arbuthnot on Fierce Appetites by Elizabeth Boyle; Lucy Sweeney Byrne on Jessica Au’s Cold Enough For Snow; Seamás O’Reilly on Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir by Bob Odenkirk; Neil Hegarty on The Slowworm’s Song by Andrew Miller; Mary O’Donnell on Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood; Helen Cullen on Hourglass by Keiran Goddard; Sarah Gilmartin on The Wonders by Elena Medel, translated by Lizzie Bunstead and Thomas Bunstead.

This Saturday’s Irish Times Eason offer is The Magician by Colm Tóibín, just €4.99, a saving of €6, when you buy the paper.

Literature Ireland has nominated the Irish-language novel Madame Lazare by Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, published by the Barzaz imprint at Futa Fata, for the European Union Prize for Literature 2022. It is the first Irish-language title to be nominated.

The prize, administered by the Federation of European Publishers in Brussels, celebrates the wealth and diversity of emerging fiction across Europe. It is open to the 41 countries in the Creative Europe programme and, each year, one third of these member countries competes by nominating a work of literature. The 2022 nominating body for Ireland was Literature Ireland, which promotes Irish literature abroad. The other countries taking part are Ukraine, Spain, Slovakia, Romania, Norway, North Macedonia, Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Georgia, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Austria.


Sinéad Mac Aodha, director of Literature Ireland, said: “As Europe is shaken by the Russian attacks on Ukraine and by the greatest threat to European democratic values this century, it seems entirely fitting to celebrate the power of the creative imagination and the ability of fiction to foster mutual understanding and to unite people.

“Madame Lazare by Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin is a perfect example of a book which can do this. Spanning three generations, its sphere of reference ranges from the Aran Islands in the Atlantic to Brussels and Paris in the heart of Europe and as far east as Estonia. This most European of books focuses on questions of language, identity, war, migration, memory and loss, subjects which are all the more compelling in the context of the current crisis.

“Literature Ireland is proud to have nominated Madame Lazare, written and published in Connemara in the very west of Europe, for this major European prize. We wish the author and the book every success and hope that Madame Lazare will reach and touch the hearts of readers right across Europe.”

Mac Dhonnagáin said: “I’m truly delighted that my novel has been selected to represent both my country and the language in which I work at the European Union Prize for Literature. It’s truly a great honour to be one of 14 fiction writers across the continent whose work is being introduced by the prize to a wider international readership.”

A seven-member European jury will select an outright winner and recognise five other titles for special mention. The prize will be announced on April 21st at the Paris Book Festival.


Una Mannion has won this year’s Kate O’Brien Award for her debut novel, A Crooked Tree, published last year by Faber & Faber. The €2,000 award, now in its seventh year, is given to the best novel or short story collection by an Irish female writer.

The other shortlisted works were: Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac by Louise Kennedy, Mother Mother by Annie Macmanus, Holding her Breath by Eimear Ryan and Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett.

Mannion was born and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but spent childhood summers visiting Co Sligo, where her father was born, before settling there in the 1990s. In 2014, she joined the Sandy Field Writers’ and has been writing ever since. Recently, she completed an MA in Writing from NUI Galway and is programme chair of the new BA in Writing + Literature at IT Sligo, where shwe has taught for more than 20 years.

She has won numerous prizes for her short fiction and poetry including The Hennessy New Irish Writing Poetry Award, the Cúirt International Short Fiction Award, Doolin short story prize, Ambit fiction award, Allingham short fiction prize among others. Her stories have been included in Galway Stories: 2020 edited by Lisa Frank and Alan McMonagle and The Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish Short Stories edited by Sinéad Gleeson. Along with writers Louise Kennedy and Eoin McNamee, she edits The Cormorant, a broadsheet of poetry and prose.

Standing in solidarity with their peers in Ukraine, local writers are coming together this Sunday, March 6th at 8.30pm at the Lyric Theatre, Belfasat to read excerpts from contemporary Ukrainian works. Organised and hosted by award-winning author Jan Carson, the night will include readers Anna Burns, Jan Carson, Glenn Patterson, Stephen Sexton, Dara McAnulty, Leontia Flynn and Kabosh Theatre Company.

Readings will feature work from Oksana Zabuzhko (novelist and short story writer), Myroslav Laiuk (poet), Olena Stiazhkina (novelist), Oksana Lutsushna (poet), Haska Shyyan (novelist), Ilya Kaminsky (poet) and Natalya Vorozhbit (playwright and filmmaker).

All proceeds from the evening will go to the Red Cross Ukraine appeal. The venue, staff, performers, promotional materials, photography and streaming facility have all been donated through people’s time and generosity.

Carson said, “Like many others around the world, writers in Northern Ireland have been heartbroken by the situation in Ukraine and have struggled to find a tangible way to respond. We hope this reading will be a small but meaningful gesture which really resonates. It’s an absolute honour to stand with our brave, tenacious and incredibly talented fellow writers in Ukraine as we share their words, their frustrations and hopes for the future of their home.”

Jimmy Fay, executive producer of the Lyric said, “We are proud to support Jan’s initiative and her fellow writers in solitary with Ukraine. It’s important that our theatre offers a platform for our artists to respond. Ukraine has a rich theatrical and performative history and currently theatres there are a place of sanctuary. It’s heart breaking to see an army invading a country in our modern era. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go to the Ukrainian people and we wish for a swift and peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

Ticket donations are available at £12, £25 or £50 from lyrictheatre.co.uk. There will also be a streaming option for the evening and a donation platform for those who wish to donate but can’t attend the show. All donations will go directly to the Red Cross Ukraine appeal.

Poetry Ireland, with the Global Brain Health Institute (Trinity College Dublin) and Creative Brain Week, is inviting older people across the island of Ireland to write a line of poetry for a Poemathon with Older People.

The contributions will be combined to form a collaborative poem capturing the thoughts and imaginings of older people right now on the theme of climate crisis.

Former president and adjunct professor for climate justice at Trinity College Dublin, Mary Robinson, has penned the opening line of the poem:

“Growing up we did not know; now we need to mend”

Robinson said, “It’s wonderful to see the Poemathon with Older People focusing on the climate crisis as its theme and bringing together the voices of an older generation through the shared experience of creating a poem.

“As we get older, we think more often about our legacy and picture the world that will be inherited by the next generations. I look forward to seeing how the contributors to the Poemathon engage with the idea that now is the time we need to mend.”

This is the second year of the Poemathon, which will again be curated and edited by poet and editor Seamus Cashman. Submissions can be made through Poetry Ireland's website until 5pm on March 28th.

Niamh O’Donnell, director of Poetry Ireland, said, “The Poemathon is a creative opportunity to express reflections, reactions and responses to what is happening in society, through the perspectives of older people.

“We’re delighted that Mary Robinson has joined us for this year’s project. Last year’s Poemathon brought together rich thoughts and feelings on the Covid-19 pandemic from hundreds of contributors – we’re looking forward to seeing all the lines of poetry in response to this year’s timely and impactful theme.”


The 2022 Michel Déon Prize for non-fiction is now open to nominations. The €10,000 prize will be awarded in September for the best non-fiction book, published since April 1st last year by a writer living in Ireland. The winning author will also give the Michel Déon lecture in France in 2023.

In September 2020 the Royal Irish Academy awarded the prize to Conor O’Clery for his book The Shoemaker and his Daughter. In 2018 the inaugural prize went to historian Breandán MacSuibhne for his book The End of Outrage: Post-Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland.

The prize, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, will be awarded to the author of the book that the judging panel consider to be the best work of non-fiction in the eligible categories of autobiography, biography, cultural studies, history, literary studies, philosophy and travel.

Déon (1919-2016) is considered to have been one of the leading French writers of the 20th century and lived in Ireland from the 1970s until his death in 2016. He published over 50 works of fiction and non-fiction and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Prix Interallié for his 1970 novel, Les Poneys sauvages (The Wild Ponies). Déon’s 1973 novel Un taxi mauve received the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française and in 1978 he was elected to the Académie française.

To nominate a title or to see the rules, visit ria.ie/michel-deon-prize. The closing date for nominations is April 12th.

Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney has made the longlist for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2022, as has Learwife by Cork-basaed writer JR Thorp. Also in the running for the award are Oana Aristide for Under the Blue; The Day I Fell off My Island by Yvonne Bailey-Smith; The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore; The Lip by Charlie Carroll; Marianne Cronin’s The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot; Francesca Haig’s The Cookbook of Common Prayer; Lucy Jago’s A Net for Small Fishes; Catherine Menon’s Fragile Monsters; Emma Musty’s Exile and the Mapmaker and Melody Razak’s Moth.

Lucy Popescu, chair of the judging panel, commented: “We are delighted to announce our longlist of exceptional debut novelists who cover an array of subjects from bereavement and memory, betrayal and isolation to resilience and hope, as well as celebrating intergenerational friendships and the importance of community. We visit England’s past, present and future and travel across the world from Northern Ireland to Malaysia, India to Jamaica, Tasmania to the Arctic Circle.”

The shortlist announcement is on March 25th and the winner will be announced at a dinner at the National Liberal Club on May 25th. The winning novel is selected by guest adjudicator Alex Wheatle from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Popescu.

Inaugurated in 1954, the £2,500 award is now in its 68th year, making it the longest-running UK prize for debut fiction.