The Listowel Writers’ Week Awards were announced at a digital media ceremony on 28 May in Listowel, Co Kerry, on what should have been the opening night of the 50th annual Writers’ Week, which was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Edna O’Brien, at 90, wins 25th Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year
Edna O’Brien, who will turn 90 this December, was awarded the €15,000 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award for her latest novel, Girl, 60 years after her first novel, The Country Girls, was published. Girl has also been shortlisted for the Eason and Dalkey Novel of the Year awards and the Orwell Prize for political fiction. It is a fictional account of the kidnapping by Boko Haram of a group of schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014. O’Brien travelled to the country several times to research the story.
It is the latest honour for O’Brien, who was appointed a Saoi by Aosdána in 2015 and awarded the PEN/Nabokov Award For Achievement in International Literature as well as being made an honorary Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 2018. Girl was selected by authors Carol Drinkwater and Ian McGuire from a shortlist that consisted of The River Capture by Mary Costello; Leonard & Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession; Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry; and Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor. Catherine Moylan, chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week, said: “It is wonderful to be able to acknowledge and celebrate Irish literature during these times when a good novel can offer us escapism, comfort and hope.”
Miriam Gamble wins Pigott Poetry Prize
At the same digital awards ceremony, Miriam Gamble was chosen by Ian McMillan as the winner of the €10,000 Pigott Poetry Prize for her collection What Planet from a shortlist including Pigeon Songs by Eoghan Walls and When the Tree Falls by Jane Clarke. Gamble was born in Brussels in 1980 and grew up in Belfast. A lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, she won the Eric Gregory Award in 2007, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award in 2010, and the Somerset Maugham Award in 2011. What Planet is her third poetry collection.