Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2013 – Shortlist Announced

The 5 shortlisted authors for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2013 were announced last night at Dublin’s Mansion House by Kerry Group’s Aoife O’Brien. The €15,000 award is the largest monetary prize for fiction available solely to Irish authors.

The award was adjudicated this year by Robert McCrum, Observer Associate Editor and former editor-in-chief of Faber & Faber, together with poet and playwright, Rita Ann Higgins. The five authors on the list are:

Lucy Caldwell, All the Beggars Riding

All the Beggars RidingBorn in Belfast in 1981, Lucy Caldwell read English at Queens’ College, Cambridge and is a graduate of Goldsmith’s MA in Creative and Life Writing. She is the author of two previous novels, Where They Were Missed (2006) and The Meeting Point (2011), which featured on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime and was awarded the Dylan Thomas Prize and The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Her stage plays (Leaves, Guardians, Notes to Future Self) and radio dramas (Girl From Mars, Avenues of Eternal Peace, Witch Week) have won awards including the George Devine Award and the Imison Award. In 2011 she was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for her body of work to date.


Gavin Corbett, This is the Way

This-Is-The-Way[1]Gavin Corbett was born in the west of Ireland and grew up in Dublin, where he studied History at Trinity College. This is the Way, his second novel, is published by Fourth Estate in the UK (Spring 2013) and by Faber in the US (Winter 2013). He lives in New York.




Claire Kilroy, The Devil I Know

The Devil I KnowClaire Kilroy’s debut novel All Summer was described in The Times as “Compelling … a thriller, a confession and a love story framed by a meditation on the arts.” Claire was awarded the 2004 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Her second novel, Tenderwire was shortlisted for the 2007 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award. It was followed, in 2009, by the highly acclaimed novel, All Names Have Been Changed. Educated at Trinity College, she lives in Dublin.



Kathleen MacMahon, This is How it Ends

This Is How it EndsKathleen MacMahon is a writer and journalist. Her first novel, This Is How It Ends, was published to critical acclaim in May 2012 and spent 5 weeks at the top of the bestseller list in Ireland. The book is being translated into more than twenty languages. A former journalist with Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, Kathleen is the grand-daughter of the short story writer Mary Lavin. She lives in Dublin with her husband and twin daughters. Kathleen was winner of the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year 2012 for Literature.


Thomas O’Malley, The Magnificent Desolation

This Magnificant DesolationThomas O’Malley is the author of the novel In the Province of Saints, selected as one of the best books of 2005 by Booklist and the New York Public Library. He earned his MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and teaches at Dartmouth College. Raised in Ireland and England, O’Malley currently lives in the Boston area. 


Speaking about the shortlist, Robert McCrum said “After an intensive selection process, shared throughout this spring with my distinguished associate Rita Ann Higgins, I am delighted to announce these 5 fine writers for the shortlist of a most important Irish literary prize. It has been such an honour to make a contribution to this part of Listowel Writers’ Week, and I look forward to working with Rita Ann in picking the winner. It’s going to be a close race, down to the wire.”

Established in 1995 and sponsored by Kerry Group, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year is an annual award for Irish authors of fiction. Previous winners of the award include Christine Dwyer Hickey, Anne Enright, Neil Jordan, John Banville, Joseph O’Neill, Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry and John McGahern.

Speaking about the announcement, Frank Hayes, of Kerry Group, said, “Now in its 18th year, the Kerry Group Irish Novel Award continues to be a much sought after accolade in the Irish literary calendar, with the 2013 award attracting excellent entries from both established and up-and-coming Irish writers. I extend my congratulations to our two adjudicators, Rita Ann Higgins and Robert McCrum, for selecting this year’s shortlist, which showcases the strength and richness of Irish fiction writing.”

A few words from our shortlisted authors:

Lucy Caldwell, All the Beggars Riding

“I am thrilled beyond words that my novel’s been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. I’ve wanted to come to Listowel Writers’ Week for as long as I can remember, and to come as a shortlistee is just wonderful.”

Claire Kilroy, The Devil I Know

“Being shortlisted is hugely important because the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year is the most important prize that there is for the Irish novel.  It’s our Man Booker. Nominations are invaluable as books disappear without them.

I love Listowel! All writers do. It’s always such fun and a little bit mental, particularly in the bar and particularly at night.  I’m really looking forward to it. You never know what’s going to happen.  Pat McCabe did a duet with Glenn Hansard at 4am one year.  They sang Madame George.  I’ve made friends there from my first trip back in 2004 that in the intervening years have become very dear. I first met Carlo Gebler in Listowel and he acted as the celebrant at my wedding last year.  A fine fist he made of it too.”

Gavin Corbett, This is the Way

“This is wonderful news. Wow, I’m stunned beyond words!”

Kathleen MacMahon, This is How it Ends

“As a first-timer, I am stunned that my book has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. After I got the news, I had a look down the list of the previous recipients of the award and it’s like a roll call of my favourite Irish novels.  I am so proud that mine is even being mentioned in the same breath. All this is way beyond my wildest dreams.

“I’m a reader as much as I am a writer so I’m dying to know who else is going to be appearing at Listowel this year. I was a closet writer for so long that I’m only now discovering what a great support writers can be to each other, and how hugely helpful it is to hear other people talking about their work. That’s what I’m looking forward to most. And it being Listowel, no doubt there will be plenty of colour involved.”

Thomas O’MalleyThe Magnificent Desolation

“Being shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year is an incredible honour that validates the work. You write in isolation and you have your good days and your bad days and sometimes the sense that anyone will ever read your work let alone understand and appreciate what you’re attempting to do seems very far away indeed, yet it is the hope and faith that some audience out there will connect to your work that, in part, sustains you as you write. Regardless of what comes next, the honour of being shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year itself has restored me, it is has sustained me, and it propels me to work harder than ever as a writer.

I’m looking forward to meeting the people at Listowel Writers’ Week, the other writers and those who love writing, and to simply be, for a short time, part of a community culturally and historically entrenched in the art of the written and spoken word.  I feel I will be very much like a child in a sweet shop, gawking in wonder at everything and everyone about me.”

 The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award will be announced at the opening event of the 2013 Listowel Writers’ Week on Wednesday, 29 May, 2013.




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