Banville wins novel of year at awards


More than 400 people gathered in the RDS last night in honour of books and those who write them, for the seventh Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.

David McWilliams arrived in search of someone who could tie the undone black bow tie that was dangling from his hand. Jimmy Magee wondered aloud if he needed a ticket to get in. Katie Taylor wore an eye-catching leopardskin dress.

Jennifer Johnston was sporting a very elegant beflowered walking stick.

Lifetime achievement

The awards were hosted by Claire Byrne of RTÉ. Johnston was honoured with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Irish literature.

“Once you get to 82, we all deserve awards,” she quipped. “Awards give your readers a little jab; they make readers remember you.”

Gordon Snell, husband of the late Maeve Binchy, said: “I am still receiving hundred of letters from readers all over the world.”

Mary O’Rourke confessed she was surprised at the success of her memoir, Just Mary.

“I think it’s because I tried to mesh the personal with the public, and people liked that.”

John Banville said: “It’s great people still care about books, and it’s great you can still fashion a life from literature.”

Category winners

Eason Novel of the Year: Ancient Light, by John Banville;

John Murray Show Listeners’ Choice Award: Just Mary, by Mary O’Rourke;

Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year: Broken Harbour, by Tana French;

Avonmore Cookbook of the Year: Eat Like an Italian, by Catherine Fulvio;

Argosy Non-Fiction Book of the Year: Country Girl by Edna O’Brien;

Eason Popular Fiction Book of the Year: A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy;

Lifestyle Sports Sports Book of the Year, My Olympic Dream, by Katie Taylor;

Bord Gáis Energy Bookshop of the Year: Bridge Street Books, Wicklow town;

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year, The Spinning Heart, by Donal Ryan;

International Educational Services Best Irish Published Book of the Year, Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, by John Crowley, William J Smyth and Mike Murphy;

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year: Junior section, This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers; Senior section, Artemis Fowl, The Last Guardian, by Eoin Colfer.