Binchy to get lifetime achievement award


The doyenne of Irish romantic fiction, Maeve Binchy, is to be honoured at this year's Irish Book Awards with a lifetime achievement accolade for her contribution to Irish literature.

The Dublin author has published 16 novels and several short story collections, selling more than 40 millions books in the 28 years since her debut novel Light a Penny Candle hit the shelves.

She is probably best known for her 1990 novel Circle of Friends which was later made into a successful Hollywood movie.

The writer, who lives in Dalkey, will receive the award at a ceremony to mark this year’s Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in Dublin’s Mansion House next month.

Former recipients of the award, established in 2006, include Edna O’Brien, William Trevor and the late John McGahern.

Tonight’s announcement at Dublin’s Royal College of Physicians coincided with the release of the shortlists for this year’s awards.

Novelists Colum McCann, Emma Donoghue, actress Amy Huberman and former GAA star Donal Óg Cusack are among a diverse mix of authors, celebrities and sports stars shortlisted for the awards.

The winner in each of 10 categories will be chosen by a public vote via the Irish Book Awards website,

Donoghue’s much-acclaimed novel Room, shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize, will vie with McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, winner of last year’s coveted US National Book Award, for the Irish Novel of the Year award.

Also shortlisted in this category is Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn, winner of last year’s Costa Fiction Award, Skippy Dies  by Paul Murray, Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor and Roddy Doyle’s latest offering The Dead Republic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the non-fiction category is dominated by titles exploring the country’s current economic woes, including Wasters by journalists Shane Ross and Nick Webb, Who Really Runs Ireland by broadcaster Matt Cooper and Ship of Fools by Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole.

The non-fiction list also includes JFK in Ireland: Four Days that Changed a President by RTÉ broadcaster Ryan Tubridy which charts the ill-fated US leader’s momentous visit to Ireland in 1963.

Actress Amy Huberman’s debut novel Hello, Heartbreak is included in the popular fiction shortlist along with comic writer Paul Howard aka Ross O'Carroll Kelly’s The Oh My God Delusion, and Sinead Moriarty’s Pieces of my Heart.

Cork’s triple All-Ireland medal winner Donal Óg Cusack’s frank autobiogrpahy about life at the upper echelons of the hurling world will surley be a popular choice in the best sports book category, as will champion jockey Ruby Walsh’s own acccount of life at the racetrack.

In the best children’s book junior category, Dublin author Benji Bennett’s Adam's Pirate Treasure goes up against Niamh Sharkey’s On the Road with Mavis and Marge. While in the senior category celebrated author John Boyne’s Noah Barleywater Runs Away competes against Derek Landy’s popular Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil.

Chairman of the awards committee Tom Owens said the shortlists reflected the rich and diverse selection of Irish writing available.

The winners will be announced at awards ceremony on Thursday November 25th, hosted John Murray, presenter of The John Murray Show on RTÉ Radio 1, and Sinead Desmond, anchor of the TV3’s Ireland AM.