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Adrian Duncan wins inaugural John McGahern Prize

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies today announced that the winner of the inaugural £5,000 John McGahern Annual Book Prize is Adrian Duncan, for his novel, Love Notes from a German Building Site. Published in 2019 by The Lilliput Press, it was also shortlisted for the inaugural 2020 Dalkey Literary Awards and is Duncan’s first book.

This is the first year of the £5,000 book prize, which was launched by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies in memory of John McGahern. The prize aims to encourage new Irish writing and considered debut novels or short story collections by an Irish writer or writer resident in Ireland, and published in 2019. The judging panel consisting of Brooklyn author and University of Liverpool Chancellor, Colm Tóibín alongside University of Liverpool Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Janet Beer; Sarah Gilmartin, regular reviewer of new fiction with The Irish Times; and the Institute of Irish Studies’ Professor Frank Shovlin, who is currently researching John McGahern’s work and correspondence for an authorised biography.

Adrian Duncan is a Berlin-based Irish visual artist who originally trained as a structural engineer. His short-form fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, gorse, The Moth, The Dublin Review and Meridian (US), among others. His feature film on Irish engineer Peter Rice, co-directed with Feargal Ward, premiered at the Dublin International Film Festival 2019. His second novel A Sabbatical in Leipzig was published by The Lilliput Press in 2020.

About the book:
Paul, a young Irish engineer, follows his girlfriend to Berlin, and begins work on the renovation of a commercial building in Alexanderplatz. Wrestling with a new language, on a site running behind schedule, and with a relationship in flux, he becomes increasingly untethered. Set against the structural evolution of a sprawling city, this meditation on language, memory and yearning is underpinned by the site’s physical reality. As the narrator explores the mind’s fragile architecture, he begins to map his own strange geography through a series of notebooks, or ‘Love Notes’. https://www.lilliputpress.ie/product/love-notes-from-a-german-building-site-adrian-duncan