Since the shortlist was announced at the end of July we have been profiling each of our finalists in turn. On Friday we looked at the last of our shortlist, Danielle McLaughlin. Today, inspired by her place as one of three Irish shortlistees this year, we will be looking at the rich influence of Irish writers upon the prize over the past decade.
We now have just days to go until the 2019 winner is announced. If Danielle – or indeed Kevin Barry or Louise Kennedy - wins on Thursday, the Award will see an Irish winner for the second time (in Kevin’s case, the same one). Danielle or Louise would become the first Irish woman, and the third woman of any nationality, to take the title.
Irish writers have dominated the shortlist this year, making up half of the line-up. However, the Award has benefited from exceptional Irish writing throughout its history, with an impressive line-up of authors and judges.
Kevin Barry of course returns this year for a second time, the first being his win in 2012 with ‘Beer Trip to Llandudno’. In that same year Emma Donoghue joined Kevin on the shortlist, with her short story ‘The Hunt’. In 2016 prize-winning author Colum McCann was shortlisted for his story ‘What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?’, and even more recently Sally Rooney was shortlisted in 2017 for her story ‘Mr Salary’. In that same year the prize was also honoured with the formidable judging talents of Anne Enright.
There is one further interesting aspect to the Award’s relationship with Irish writing, specific to both this year and over the last decade. In 2019 we are proud to have discovered Louise Kennedy and Danielle McLaughlin at a relatively early stage of their literary career, but the same applies to the majority of our shortlisted Irish writers.
Colum McCann and Emma Donoghue were already established names, of course. However, Kevin Barry had only just published City of Bohane back in 2012, and the Award was able to showcase the work of Sally Rooney before she had her first novel, Conversations with Friends, published.
Having the majority of the shortlist hail from a relatively small country this year is, of course, a huge accolade for Ireland’s literary landscape, especially in what has been a year of exceptional quality. But this Award isn’t the only place to pick up on the immense surge of talent from Ireland, as Alex Clark recently wrote in the Guardian. You can read her excellent piece here, which was also syndicated in the Irish Times.
Please join us again on Thursday evening when we will announce the winner of 2019 prize.