TWO first-time novelists are among five writers who have been shortlisted for the prestigious Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2021.
Revealed this month, the shortlist has been whittled down from 50 novels by adjudicators Rachel Cusk and Richard Skinner, both novelists, on behalf of the annual Listowel Writers’ Week festival.
It features Niamh Campbell’s debut This Happy, Threshold by Rob Doyle, A Sabbatical in Leipzig by Adrian Duncan, Words to Shape my Name, a first novel by Laura McKenna, and Bina by Anakana Schofield.
Speaking about that process, Mr Skinner said: “We judges were thrilled to see the variety and quality of this year’s entries for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Prize.
“There were many novels that impressed us but we feel these five shortlisted novels were the standouts this year for the experiment and playfulness they showed towards form and for their unique statements.
“Each one contained great beauty and originality - a rare combination these days,” he added.
Announcing the shortlist, Catherine Moylan, Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week, said: “Listowel Writers’ Week has always been a festival where emerging writers are encouraged and welcomed. It is wonderful to see two debut novelists (Niamh Campbell and Laura McKenna) amongst this year’s shortlist.”
She added: “We are delighted to be able to continue to celebrate Irish literature and as always, we are most grateful to our sponsors, Kerry Group, for helping us continue this important literary award.”
Speaking of their sponsorship, now in its 26th year, Kerry Group’s Vice President Corporate Affairs and Communications, Catherine Keogh explained: “We are delighted to continue our support of Listowel Writer’s Week. In the last year the role and value of books has never been more appreciated as writers bring us to new worlds and new experiences while our own movement has been so curtailed.
"Congratulations to all of the authors who have been shortlisted and I very much look forward to hearing who will be announced the winner in June.”
The winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award – who will receive a €15,000 prize pot - will be announced on Wednesday, June 2, 2021.
The full list of competition winners at Listowel Writers’ Week will be announced on the same day on their website.