Yeats Society Sligo saved; Guy Kennaway wins Wodehouse Prize; Duncan book deal

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a roundup of the latest book news

Guy Kennaway celebrates quietly at home

Guy Kennaway celebrates quietly at home

 

Guy Kennaway has won the 2021 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction with his novel The Accidental Collector, “an outrageous send up of the contemporary art world”. Kennaway said: “I have always wanted to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize. It combines a number of my passions: good books, fine champagne, laughter and pigs.”

Kennaway was awarded the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize at his home in Jamaica. As is tradition for the prize, he was presented with a pig, newly named The Accidental Collector after his winning book. He also receives a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, and the complete set of the Everyman’s Library PG Wodehouse collection.

Born in London in 1957, Kennaway writes fiction, non-fiction and journalism. He champions the underdog in his work, searching out communities under pressure and trying to make the best of their troubles with tenderness and laughter. He is best known for writing One People about a Jamaican village threatened by mass US tourism, Bird Brain about a community of optimistic pheasants and Time to Go, “the funniest book about dying you are likely to read”. His latest book is Foot Notes, written with Hussein Sharif, and described as a broad comedy about race and nationality in Great Britain.

The other shortlisted novels were: Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts (Penguin Books), Naji Bakhti’s Between Beirut and the Moon (Influx Press), Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu (Bloomsbury), Hilary Leichter’s Temporary (Faber & Faber) and Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts (HarperCollins).

Titles being reviewed in The Irish Times this Saturday are Siobhán McSweeney on The 32, edited by Paul McVeigh; Mia Levitin on Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor; Sarah Gilmartin on Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel ; Denis Staunton on All in it Together: England in the Early 21st Century by Alwyn Turner; Rachel Andrews on Sex: A Brief History by Fern Riddell; Emma Flynn on The Painter’s Friend by Howard Cunnell; Roy Foster on The Eye of the Xenos: Letters about Greece by Richard Pine; Sarah Moss on Shine/Variance by Stephen Walsh; and Claire Hennessy on the best new YA fiction.

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The Yeats Society Sligo, which had faced closure because of a funding shortfall, has been saved, its director, Susan O’Keeffe, confirmed this week.

“We are delighted that we reached our crowdfund target, with such great generosity, from people in Sligo, Ireland and across the globe,” O’Keeffe said. “That Yeats is a global poet was never in doubt, but the crowdfund has underlined for us the great support there is for his work and what he means to people everywhere.

“The funds will allow us to keep the Yeats Building open, continue to run the International Summer School and hopefully allow us to continue to innovate with masterclasses and short weekend courses and poetry breaks. In addition, we will very soon be launching the first set of digital trails in Ireland for a poet – Yeats Unwrapped – taking visitors around Co Sligo and introducing them to the inspirational landscape that meant so much to WB Yeats all through his life.”

Another WB Yeats-related public appeal is also close to success. The WB Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project has raised £125,000, 93 per cent of the funding required to install a sculpture, Enwrought Light by Conrad Shawcross, to ceelbrate the poet’s links with the London suburb. Among the latest donors was the world-famous musician Jimmy Page, a local resident. You can add your support here.

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Adrian Duncan’s third novel, The Geometer Lobachevsky, is to be published jointly by the Lilliput Press in Ireland and Profile Books in Britain next April, the Bookseller reports.

Set in the early 1950s, the story follows Soviet mathematician Nikolai Lobachevsky who is carrying out a land survey in Ireland. While there, he receives a letter from the Russian Ministry of State Security ordering him back to Leningrad for a “special appointment”. Immediately suspicious, he goes into hiding on a small island in the Shannon estuary where he waits in the hope of some day returning safely home.

Profile will also publish an edition of his second novel, A Sabbatical in Leipzig, in a deal brokered by the Marianne Gunn O’Connor Literary Agency. His first, Loves Notes from a German Building Site, won the John McGahern Book Prize. Earlier this year, Lilliput published his first story collection, Midfield Dynamo, and he is also working on a non-fiction book for them about the 50th anniversary of the revolutionary book, Bungalow Bliss, which he will be writing about in Ticket in The Irish Times next week.

Lilliput publisher Antony Farrell said: “In his fourth book, Duncan moves his writing into a different realm and we are delighted to announce a sale of UK rights to London’s Profile Books to ensure global recognition of this exceptional Longford author.”

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