Booker Prize nominee Elaine Feeney: ‘It blew my mind a little bit’

The writer tells The Women’s Podcast about her nomination joy

Listen | 62:10

Irish author Elaine Feeney is the only Irish woman to make the longlist for this year’s Booker Prize. Feeney finds herself in good company nominated alongside Irish authors Sebastian Barry, Paul Murray and Paul Lynch, for her 2023 novel How to Build a Boat.

“It’s just been amazing and I was so honoured… it blew my mind a little bit,” she tells Róisín Ingle on the latest episode of The Women’s Podcast.

How to Build a Boat tells the story of 13 year-old Jamie O’Neil, a neurodivergent boy obsessed with numbers, the colour red and the idea of inventing a Perpetual Motion Machine. It follows his journey as he enters secondary school and meets the teachers who will help him in his quest to build this boat.

In this conversation, the pair discuss Feeney’s joy at being nominated, the inspiration behind the book and how a severe illness in 2014 spurred her on to write fiction.


Feeney also speaks about her life growing up in the west of Ireland, falling in love with poetry in her teens and her new poetry collection due out next year.

You can listen back to this podcast in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search The Women’s Podcast in your favourite app.

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan is an audio producer at The Irish Times