Room, inspired by the Josef Fritzl case, has won the Hughes Hughes Novel of the Year Award.
The Dublin-born writer’s dark tale about a boy who lives with his mother in a locked room received the top accolade at the Irish Book Awards last night.
The book was chosen by public vote from a strong shortlist that also included Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn, Joseph O'Connor's Ghost Lightand Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, winner of last year's US National Book Award.
At a prize-giving dinner in the Mansion House, Dublin, last night, the author, who now lives in Canada, said: “I’ve never been on a shortlist this good.
“No insult to any other authors, but the list tonight is incredibly strong.”
Asked why she thought her book had had such an impact, Ms Donoghue said: “I think it touches on the universal theme of a young person discovering there’s more to life than the confines of their own little world.”
Neil Richardson's book on Irishmen who fought in the first World War, A Coward if I Return, a Hero if I Fall, took top prize in the non-fiction category.
Johnny Giles's autobiography, A Football Man, chronicling his time with some of England's biggest soccer clubs [Manchester United, Leeds] won the Energise Sport Irish Sports Book of the Year.
Romantic fiction writer Maeve Binchy was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Irish literature.
“An award like this in front of your own is very special,” said Ms Binchy, receiving the award. “I never thought of myself as a person who would get an award. I’m just a storyteller.”
The book by Ross O'Carroll Kelly (Paul Howard), The Oh My God Delusion, took top honours in the popular fiction category, eclipsing the latest offerings from Sheila O'Flanagan, Sinéad Moriarty and Cathy Kelly.
Gene Kerrigan's Dark Times in the Citywon the crime fiction category.
The Best Newcomer of the Year Award went to RTÉ broadcaster and Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy's JFK in Ireland: Four Days that Changed a President.
Cork hurler Donal Óg Cusack's frank autobiography Come What May, ghostwritten by Irish Timessports writer Tom Humphries, won RTÉ Radio 1's John Murray Show listeners' choice award.
In the best children's book junior category, Niamh Sharkey's On the Roadwith Mavis and Marge took the top prize, while in the senior category, Derek Landy's popular Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coilwon.
President Mary McAleese spoke at the ceremony last night of the grave economic crisis facing Ireland and urged people not to lose faith.
“Let no one claim that Ireland is anything less than a great country,” she said.
“Our people are entitled to be defined by much more than this period of economic turmoil.”