Good news for Irish writing as shortlists for Dalkey Literary Awards 2020 announced

Dalkey Literary Awards boasts significant prize fund of €30,000

This year’s Dalkey Book Festival is set to be replaced by the inaugural Dalkey Literary Awards, proudly launched by the Dalkey Book Festival in conjunction with Zurich Insurance. The Dalkey Book Festival was originally due to take place next month but this summer will see the Dalkey Literary Awards take its place on 20th June 2020 with a digital award ceremony, ensuring that the festival’s organisers can still give back to artists during a difficult year.

Sian Smyth, Director of the Dalkey Book Festival said: “We are devastated not to be holding the festival this year as we had some wonderful writers and thinkers booked to come to Ireland and share their thoughts and insights with our audiences. Just because the world has stopped in many ways, creativity doesn’t have to. We will be back in 2021 stronger than ever and are delighted to mark the festival weekend with our new Dalkey Literary Awards. For writers, with a total prize fund of €30,000, the Dalkey Literary Awards will be the most lucrative in the Irish literary calendar.

“I hope our announcement will prompt the reading (or re-reading) of these shortlisted books. The winners will be revealed at our digital award ceremony on 20th June 2020, when the Dalkey Book Festival was due to be in full swing. I like to imagine our festival team, our partners at Zurich and our loyal festival audience forming a kind of reading community, reading some of these titles together while being apart. Let’s look at the Awards as replacing this year’s festival, while we all look forward to a brighter 2021.”

The 12 shortlisted authors comprise six established Irish literary favourites in the ‘Novel of the Year’ category as well as six remarkable home-grown talents nominated for the ‘Emerging Writer’ award.

The shortlisted books and writers are:

Novel of the Year
  1. 1. 'The Narrow Land' by Christine Dwyer Hickey
  2. 2. 'Girl' by Edna O'Brien
  3. 3. 'The Fire Starters' by Jan Carson
  4. 4. 'Shadowplay' by Joseph O'Connor
  5. 5. 'Night Boat to Tangier' by Kevin Barry
  6. 6. 'The River Capture' by Mary Costello
Emerging Writer
  1. 1. Adrian Duncan for 'Loves Notes from A German Building Site'
  2. 2. Eleanor Fitzsimons for 'The Life & Loves of E. Nesbit'
  3. 3. Lucy Sweeney Byrne for 'Paris Syndrome'
  4. 4. Nicole Flattery for 'Show Them A Good Time'
  5. 5. Rónán Hession for ‘Leonard and Hungry Paul’
  6. 6. Sinéad Gleeson for 'Constellations'

David McWilliams, Co-Founder of the Dalkey Book Festival said: “2020 has been an awful year for writers: book launches have been postponed, advances rescinded, publication dates missed, signings cancelled, public readings called off and, of course, our wonderful book shops have been shuttered. But creativity never sleeps and I’m delighted that we are able to recognise our very best during this tempest. Ireland has rarely had such a conveyor belt of literary talent, writers who have shone the light of imagination in these months of darkness. This is our small way of saying thanks and a big, virtual hug from all of us at Dalkey.”

Sian Smyth, Director of the Dalkey Book Festival said: “I’m extremely proud to be announcing the books that made the shortlists. These choices display the immense talent out there today; Irish writing is certainly having a moment. As well as the six shortlisted novels, the Emerging Writer category has allowed us to consider an exciting breadth of genres. Inaugurating the Dalkey Literary Awards right now shows that we believe writers are important; books are perhaps especially meaningful at the moment. I’m delighted we at Dalkey Book Festival are strengthening our partnership with Zurich Insurance who are just as committed to giving back to writers.”

Neil Freshwater, CEO Zurich Insurance plc said: “At times like this, it’s great to take comfort in the arts, and now more than ever, we can turn to literature for support and to help us draw on the experiences of others as inspiration. In Zurich, we have proudly sponsored the Dalkey Book Festival for the last six years and are delighted to launch the Dalkey Literary Awards, too. It is a reminder of the role literature and culture plays in our society and the essential outlet that they can provide. We are delighted to continue reinforcing our commitment and support to writers, literature and creativity in Ireland.”

This is the first year of the Dalkey Literary Awards. Aimed exclusively at Irish writers and with total prize money of €30,000, the Dalkey Literary Awards are the most lucrative in the country. Shortlisted Irish authors will vie for recognition in the two categories, with the winner of the ‘Novel of the Year’ category walking walk away with €20,000 whilst the writer crowned ‘Emerging Writer’ will receive €10,000.

Commenting on being shortlisted for the ‘Novel of the Year’ award, Kevin Barry, author of Night Boat To Tangier, said: "I've been haunting the wonderful Dalkey Festival since it started and it's a great old buzz to get on the shortlist for their inaugural Awards. The Awards are a very generous and very useful contribution to writing here, and long may they continue and thrive."

Commenting on being shortlisted for the ‘Emerging Writer’ award, Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations, said: "I'm really thrilled to be shortlisted, as prizes for emerging writers are hugely important in terms of lighting the way for a writer who is just starting out. The Dalkey Literary Awards should also be applauded for being open to all genres, which makes the mix of work included all the more exciting."

The establishment of the Dalkey Literary Awards has marked a major new step for the highly popular Dalkey Book Festival, which has grown exponentially since its 2010 debut with the support of Zurich.

Set in the beautiful seaside town of Dalkey in County Dublin, the Dalkey Book Festival has been playing host to some of the greatest authors and thinkers from across the globe since 2010. The festival celebrates literature, theatre, film and comedy as well as ideas, exploring the worlds of science, technology, current affairs, new politics and global trends.

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