It was an absolutely bumper year for Irish writing, as the An Post Irish Book Awards for 2021 have shown. After a year and a half of lockdown, our nation of writers have shown what they’re made of and how they can still create incredible works in trying circumstances.
This year’s awards also showed what a huge appetite the Irish audiences have for our own writers, with a record number of votes from Irish public. With the event moving to an online format once again this year after the surge in number, audiences worldwide watched the awards ceremony as it was broadcast on www.rte.ie/culture.
If you missed your chance to vote, there is still one category open – the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year’ award is still up for grabs. Vote now to choose your winner, to be announced on RTÉ One on 8th December.
Maureen Gaffney, Séamas O’Reilly, Keith Earls, Fintan O’Toole and Donal Skehan are among the winning authors at this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards, held virtually on rte.ie/culture last night. Sinead Moriarty claimed victory with her debut Teen and Young Adult book, while the Eason Novel of the Year Award was won by the inimitable Sally Rooney.
First awarded in 2006, the An Post Irish Book Awards are Ireland’s biggest literary celebration, showcasing a diverse mix of exceptional writing from new and established writers across 20 categories- championing everything from novels and non-fiction to poetry, short stories and the Irish language.
Four new categories were also added to the initiative this year:
The ‘An Post Bookshop of the Year’ category is designed to acknowledge the significant role played by independent bookshops and local book store chain branches right across the country in helping their local communities to find the titles of their choice, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ‘Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year’ category is aimed at acknowledging an Irish author whose work has contributed significantly to the reader experience and enjoyment of Irish books during 2021.
The ‘Dubray Biography of the Year’ category celebrates the large number of wonderful biographies from Irish writers
The ‘Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year’, a category that covers a range of interesting lifestyle subjects.
Below is the full list of winners for the ‘An Post Irish Book Awards 2021’:
Eason Novel of the Year
Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney
Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year
56 Days – Catherine Ryan Howard
Eason Sport Book of the Year in Association with Ireland AM
Fight Or Flight: My Life, My Choices – Keith Earls, with Tommy Conlon
Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year
Snowflake – Louise Nealon
Odgers Berndtson Non-Fiction Book of the Year
We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 – Fintan O’Toole
Dubray Biography of the Year
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? – Séamas O’Reilly
Bookselling Ireland Cookbook of the Year
Everyday Cook – Donal Skehan
National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year
Aisling and the City – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year
Décor Galore – Laura De Barra
TheJournal.ie Best Irish Published Book of the Year
The Coastal Atlas of Ireland – Val Cummins, Robert Devoy, Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett, Sarah Kandrot
Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)
A Hug for You – David King, illustrated by Rhiannon Archard
Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)
The Summer I Robbed a Bank – David O’Doherty, illustrated by Chris Judge
Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year
The New Girl – Sinead Moriarty
RTÉ Audience Choice Award
Your One Wild And Precious Life – Maureen Gaffney
Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year
Writing.ie Short Story of the Year
Little Lives – Deirdre Sullivan
Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year
Longboat at Portaferry – Siobhan Campbell
The Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year
Madame Lazare – Tadgh Mac Dhonnagain
The An Post Bookshop of the Year
Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery, Galway
The An Post Irish Book Awards is also delighted to announce that Irish writer Sebastian Barry is the recipient of this year’s ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’.
Sebastian Barry joins a host of other distinguished recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award including Colm Tóibín, Thomas Kinsella, John McGahern, John Montague, J.P. Donleavy, Paul Durcan, John Banville, Seamus Heaney, Maeve Binchy, Edna O’Brien, Jennifer Johnston, William Trevor, and Eavan Boland, all of whom have previously received the ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award.’
Commenting on this year’s winners, John Treacy, Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards, said: “We really are so lucky to have such marvellous writers in this country. We have so many promising young writers, more women writers than ever, writers representing minority and marginalised Irish communities, and this will only grow in the years to come. I'd like to congratulate all of the winners and also the nominees in every category. It's been another great year for Irish literature. See you in 2022.”
David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, said: “As we continue to face down the greatest global challenge of our lifetime, the power of books and reading is much more evident, bringing escape, solace and satisfaction. Trusted and appreciated, local bookshops provide the essential human link between author, publisher and reader. We are very pleased to support the new category of Bookshop of the Year in 2021 and we congratulate all the Kenny family on their success this year.”
Ann-Marie Power, RTÉ Group Head of Arts and Culture added: “RTÉ is delighted to partner once again with the An Post Irish Book Awards and to use the reach of rte.ie/culture to honour our writers in this year's award ceremony. Reading is helping to sustain many people throughout the pandemic and it's wonderful to see the variety of books and authors highlighted in this year's awards ceremony.”
“Congratulations to all six authors nominated in the RTÉ Audience Choice Award, each book stood out in its singular voice, style, and originality. Special congratulations to our winner – Maureen Gaffney whose book “Your One Wild and Precious Life” is truly a book for our times and not to be missed. Her wisdom and sage advice shines through to provide a truly thoughtful experience and guide for each reader. We look forward to revealing the overall winner of the An Post Irish Book of the Year on RTÉ One on Wednesday 8th December.”
This year, over 187,500 votes were cast by the book-loving public to select the winners in each category. This is up 33% on 2020. Readers everywhere are now being invited to vote for their overall ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year’ at www.anpostirishbookawards.ie/vote. Voting opens on Wednesday 24 November.
The winner will be announced as part of a one-hour special on RTÉ One television on Wednesday 8th December exploring the six nominated books. All voters are also in with a chance of winning €100 worth of National Book Tokens.
Previous winners of the An Post Irish Book of the Year include Doireann Ni Ghriofa for A Ghost in the Throat, Vicky Phelan for Overcoming, Emilie Pine for Notes to Self, John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and John Borgonovo for Atlas of the Irish Revolution, Mike McCormack for Solar Bones, Louise O’Neill for Asking For It, Mary Costello for Academy St, Donal Ryan for The Spinning Heart, Michael Harding for Staring at Lakes, and Belinda McKeon for Solace.
For further information, please log on to the An Post Irish Book Awards website, www.anpostirishbookawards.ie