The winners of this year’s Dalkey Literary Awards presented by Zurich have been announced at the Dalkey Book Festival, in conjunction with Zurich Insurance plc. Castlebar author Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You has been announced as Novel of the Year, while Kerry-based poet Victoria Kennefick has won this year’s Emerging Writer award for her stunning collection Eat Or We Both Starve. This is the third year of the Dalkey Literary Awards and with a total prize fund of €30,000 they are the biggest prize value awards solely for Irish writers. As well as the prestige of winning the awards, Sally Rooney will receive €20,000 and Victoria Kennefick will be awarded €10,000.
Each category had three judges who each reviewed the five shortlisted authors and selected one overall winner. The Judging Panels for this year’s Dalkey Literary Awards were: Frederick Studemann, Elaine Feeney and Willie White for Novel of the Year, and Madeleine Keane, Martina Devlin and Hugh Linehan for Emerging Writer. The winners were announced this evening as part of this year’s Dalkey Book Festival which takes place this weekend in the popular seaside town.
The judges commended Beautiful World, Where Are You calling it “the most ambitious of Sally Rooney’s books so far; it is exciting to experience her accomplishment in this determinedly contemporary Irish novel.” They added “Her characters are minutely and sympathetically observed and her handling of tone, language and abundant ideas assured as she weaves a story of love and sex and friendship through an Anthropocene of vicious ideologies, failing systems and failed communication.”
Despite a diverse range of titles and genres vying for the Emerging Writer award, the judges agreed that Victoria Kennefick is a worthy winner. Commenting on Eat Or We Both Starve, the judges said “This is a slim volume with an impact that’s heavy-hitting. It delivers everything one looks for in a piece of writing: emotional heft, story, nuance, hope, memorability; and because it’s also quirky, it has the element of surprise. Victoria Kennefick is a poet who can hold her own on the international stage.”
Sian Smyth, Director of the Dalkey Book Festival said: “It’s wonderful to include the Dalkey Literary Awards in this year’s Dalkey Book Festival. With a virtual event last year, it’s very important for us to bring the much-loved weekend festival back to life this year, and the Awards are a key part of that. We’re proud to play a part in recognising some of the best literary talent, thanks to our sponsors Zurich Insurance plc and the time and dedication of our wonderful judges. It’s such a joy to see all ten authors recognised and shortlisted for these important awards.”
Neil Freshwater, CEO Zurich Insurance plc said: “Congratulations to Sally and Victoria and to all the shortlisted authors this year. Thank you to the judges who had the difficult task of selecting the winners from an incredibly talented collection of authors. Zurich is proud to support writers and literature in Ireland through its sponsorship of the Dalkey Literary Awards and the Dalkey Book Festival.”
The full shortlist for Novel of the Year was:
- Claire Keegan – ‘Small Things Like These’
- John Banville – ‘April I Spain’
- Kevin Power – ‘White City’
- Nuala O’Connor – ‘Nora’
- Sally Rooney – ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’
The five shortlisted authors for Emerging Writer were:
- Lisa Harding – ‘Bright Burning Things’
- Louise Kennedy – ‘The End of the World is a Cul de Sac’
- Rosaleen McDonagh – ‘Unsettled’
- Una Mannion – ‘A Crooked Tree’
- Victoria Kennefick – ‘Eat Or We Both Starve’
About Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You:
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.
Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?
Order your copy online here.
About Victoria Kennefick’s Eat Or We Both Starve:
Victoria Kennefick’s daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve, draws readers into seemingly recognisable set-pieces – the family home, the shared meal, the rituals of historical occasions, desire – but Kennefick forges this material into new shapes, making them viable again for exploring what it is to live with the past – and not to be consumed by it.
Rebecca Goss writes: ‘Victoria Kennefick writes with a fresh urgency, giving us poems that are honest and fearless. She once said: “Poetry has saved my life, made my life. Reading and writing it have taught me bravery and discipline.” Kennefick is unafraid to explore bereavement, sex and the female body in her poetry. She writes with a visceral originality. Her poems are rich with physical sensations. She is able to find beauty in the big subjects like sorrow and desire, offering us the finest, most startling details. Her identity as a young Irish woman is hugely important to her, something she explores with intelligence and candour. I have always felt there is nothing Victoria could not tackle. The scope in her work is exhilarating.’
Order your copy online here.