Louise Kennedy’s collection of short stories, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac, has won the John McGahern Prize for a debut book of Irish fiction published in 2021.
The prize is supported by the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and is now in its third year.
Colm Tóibín was this year’s judge, saying that Kennedy’s stories are “beautifully crafted, wry in tone, often bleak. Kennedy can capture a character in a few sentences and the essence of a complex relationship in a few paragraphs.”
In the running for the prize were The Pathless Country (Liquorice Fish Books) by James Harpur, and Holding Her Breath (Sandycove) by Eimear Ryan.
In his Books Ireland review of The End of the World is a Cul de Sac (Bloomsbury), David Butler argues that not since Conor O’Callaghan’s remarkable debut novel, Nothing on Earth (2016), has “the ghost estate—those stillborn cubs of the Celtic Tiger—been put to such effect,” referencing Kennedy’s ‘gallows humour’ and ‘grubby purity’.
Louise Kennedy went on to write Trespasses, also published by Bloomsbury, which received glittering reviews and was recently BBC Radio 4′s Book at Bedtime.