It’s been announced that Sebastian Barry will be the new Laureate for Irish fiction for the next three years, hailing what he called the current ‘golden age for prose writing in Ireland’.
The popular author of many books including Birdsong (US – UK) and Days Without End (US – UK) will take over the role from Anne Enright and begins his time as Laureate from 2018-2021 later this month. It’s not just about the honour of being laureate either, part of the role is to inspire a new generation of writers, promote Irish literature internationally and encourage the public to choose Irish fiction.
Speaking at the Laureate ceremony in Ireland, Barry said of the role
“It is no burden to assert, to as many people as possible in as many places as possible, that we live in a golden age of prose writing in Ireland. And I am really happy to be the ambassador of this rather stupendous reality for a few years. Writers reading their own work can make an illuminating music and show something important about it in the very act of ‘singing’ it. I would like to pay homage to this during the course of my laureateship”.
The Laureate for Irish Fiction is supported by the Arts Council and is run in partnership with University College Dublin and New York University.
It’s likely we’ll be hearing a lot from the double Costa winning author during his laureateship and you can expect to hear about some other great Irish authors too.
This year’s winners have been announced by Poets & Writers, and the well-deserving recipients of the 2019 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award are:
Reginald Dwayne Betts – “for mentoring individuals involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems and for his efforts to reform these systems.”
Reginald Dwayne Betts writes memoirs and poetry. His most recent collection of poetry, Bastards of the Reagan Era, won the 2016 PEN New England Award in Poetry. While his memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival and Coming of Age in Prison, is just the beginning of his campaigning to reform the criminal justice system in the UK. He has also made numerous visits to prisons and juvenile detention centres, where he shares his poetry and talks about the power of reading, literacy and mentoring those in incarceration.
This week the 2018 winners were announced and it’s a pretty exciting list! The overall winner is Adam Kay for his book listed below, all the category winners can also be found on the list below.
Costa First Novel Award Winner
The Seven Death of Evelyn Hardcastle is the début novel of Stuart Turton. The book’s plot surrounds poor Evelyn who is murdered again and again, and Aiden Bishop is always too late to save her. Each day, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest, from the party where Evelyn is first killed, but someone is determined to stop him escaping this daily routine. The only way to break this never-ending cycle is to solve the mystery of her killer.
The author himself is an English and Philosophy graduate who worked in a Darwin Bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, has written technology articles for a magazine and travel articles in Dubai. Now Turton lives in London and works as a freelance journalist.
With such a strong background in writing, it is no surprise that his first novel should receive such high praise, winning Netgalley’s Book of the Year 2018, the Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Best Novel and now, the Costa First Novel Award.
What the judges said: “This ingenious, intriguing and highly original mindbender of a murder mystery gripped us all. We were all stunned that this exciting and accomplished novel, planned and plotted perfectly, is a debut. Fresh, enticing and completely unputdownable.” Read More
This year’s entries were shortlisted to the following:
The all-male group nominated for their strange or gross depictions of sex included Gerard Woodward, William Wall, James Frey, and a particularly rapey scene written by Haruki Murakami (dude, gross, don’t do that).
The winner was announced at a lavish ceremony hosted by retro pop star Kim Wilde at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in London.
James Frey and his book Katerina won with his awkward and cringe-worthy passage describing… Well, you know.
Last year’s winner was Christopher Bollen, an American novelist whose passage describing the protagonist’s love interest is both weird and utterly unsexy:
“She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles.”