By Donal Hickey
A 38-year-old author last night scooped the richest literary award confined to Irish writers for her first novel.
The €15,000 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award went to Eimear McBride for her book, A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing.
The winner was announced at the official opening of the 43rd Listowel Writers’ Week. Also on the shortlist were Deirdre Madden, Colum McCann, Frank McGuinness and Donal Ryan.
Ms McBride’s novel has taken the literary world by storm, winning the Goldsmith Prize for fiction and being short-listed for the Bailey Prize. It tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour.
Born in Liverpool, she was raised in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo. She wrote the novel in six months but it took nine years to get it published. She lives in Norwich with her husband and daughter.
Speaking at the presentation, Kerry Group corporate affairs director Frank Hayes said the award, which celebrates excellence in Irish fiction writing, grows in stature each year.
“This year’s shortlist included the work of five exceptional Irish writers, each of whom has showcased the breadth of talent Ireland has to offer and will inevitably continue to contribute to Irish literature on the world scene,” he remarked.
Poet Paul Durcan officiated at the opening at which around 40 literary prizes were presented.
The inaugural Pigott Poetry Prize went to Matthew Sweeney and the John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award, in association with Mercier Press, to playwright Bernard Farrell.