Celebrating Irish writers with the An Post Irish Book Awards

by Alison O'Hanlon
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An Post Irish Book Awards 2023

First awarded in 2006, the An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to the widest range of readers possible. Each year it brings together a vast community passionate about books – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise the very best of Irish writing talent and 2023 is no different. 

Liz Nugent, Eimear Ryan, Claire Keegan, Peter Donnelly, Mary O’Donnell  and Moïra Fowley are among the winning authors at this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards held in the Dublin Convention Centre.

The Eason Novel of the Year Award was won by Paul Murray, who is also shortlisted for The Booker Prize, while Katriona O’Sullivan claimed two prizes with Poor, winning the Bookselling Ireland Biography of the Year as well as The Last Word Listeners’ Choice Award.

Brenden Corbett, Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards, says “The An Post Irish Book Awards has established itself as a highlight of the Irish literary calendar and we are immensely proud of what we’ve achieved through a broad coalition of readers, writers, publishers, sponsors, booksellers and librarians.

Many Irish books have been published during the last year, not only by established writers but also by a number of incredibly talented newcomers who are a wonderful addition to the Irish literary scene. We are delighted to congratulate all of this year’s winners of the An Post Irish Book Awards.”

David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, added, “We are delighted with our continued association with the An Post Irish Book Awards. Quality writing has never been more important than in turbulent times, whether fiction illuminating our inner lives, or non-fiction the world outside. This year An Post added a new award – “New Voices” – for communities who have been marginalised or traumatised, to give voice to their experiences. This year the award was open to Ukrainian refugees. An Post’s sponsorship is more than financial: it is driven from the deepest passion for writing.”

The ‘An Post Irish Book Awards’ public vote was sponsored by National Book Tokens.

A one-hour television special, hosted by Oliver Callan, will be broadcast on RTÉ One on 6th December which will reveal this year’s ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2023’, selected by a distinguished panel of judges – 

  • Judging Chair: Madeleine Keane 
  • Sinead Moriarty
  • Rick O’Shea
  • Cyril McGrane 
  • Elaina Ryan 
  • Tomás Kenny

Previous winners of the An Post Irish Book of the Year include Sally Hayden for My Fourth Time, We Drowned, Fintan O’Toole for We Don’t Know Ourselves, Doireann Ní Ghríofa for A Ghost in the Throat, the late 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

The An Post Irish Book Awards also presented Professor Roy Foster with the ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’. Foster has published widely on Irish history and has taught at some of the world’s most prestigious universities including University of London, Oxford, and Princeton. Foster’s repertoire includes a two-part biography of W.B. Yeats, which was awarded the 1998 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, and Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890 -1923, which won a British Academy Medal and the Frokosch Prize from The American Historical Association.

As the 2023 Lifetime Achievement honouree, Professor Roy Foster joins a host of other distinguished recipients including Anne Enright, Sebastian Barry, Colm Tóibín, Thomas Kinsella, Eavan Boland, John Montague, J.P. Donleavy, Paul Durcan, John Banville, Maeve Binchy, John McGahern, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, Séamus Heaney and Jennifer Johnston. All previous winners of The Lifetime Achievement Award can be found at https://www.irishbookawards.ie/history/hall-of-fame/

Below is the full list of winners for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2023’:

Eason Novel of the Year – The Bee Sting – Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

TheJournal.ie Best Irish-Published Book of the Year – Sunday Miscellany: A Selection 2018 – 2023 – Edited by Sarah Binchy (New Island Books)

Bookselling Ireland Biography of the Year – Poor – Katriona O’Sullivan (Sandycove)

Cookbook of the Year – Flavour – Mark Moriarty, photography by Cliodhna Prendergast (Gill Books)

Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year – The Hike Life – Roz Purcell (Black and White Publishing)

Dubray Non-Fiction Book of the Year – A Thread of Violence – Mark O’Connell (Granta Books)

Eason Sports Book of the Year in association with Ireland AM – The Grass Ceiling – Eimear Ryan (Sandycove)

Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year -Claire Keegan (Faber and Faber)

Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year – Strange Sally Diamond – Liz Nugent (Sandycove)

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year – Kala – Colin Walsh (Atlantic Books)

National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year – My Hot Friend – Sophie White (Hachette Books Ireland)

Foras na Gaeilge Irish Language Fiction Book of the Year Award – Imram agus Scéalta Eile – Róise Ní Bhaoill (Éabhlóid)

The Last Word Listeners’ Choice Award – Poor – Katriona O’Sullivan (Sandycove)

New Voices: The An Post Writing Prize – The Border / Кордон – Valeriia Shmyrova

International Education Services Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year, in honour of John Treacy – Black and Irish: Legends, Trailblazers and Everyday Heroes – Leon Diop and Briana Fitzsimons, illustrated by Jessica Louis (Little Island Books and Black and Irish)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Junior – The President’s Dog – Peter Donnelly (Gill Books)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year – Senior – I Am The Wind: Irish Poems for Children Everywhere – Edited by Lucinda Jacob and Sarah Webb, illustrated by Ashwin Chacko (Little Island Books)

Writing.ie Short Story of the Year – Such A Pretty Face – Moïra Fowley (Eyes Guts Throat Bones, Orion)

Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year – Vectors in Kabul – Mary O’Donnell

An Post Bookshop of the Year – Halfway up the Stairs – Greystones, Co. Wicklow

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