MIXED FORTUNES: Win for Maggie O’Farrell, but no Irish authors make Booker Prize shortlist
Life & Style

MIXED FORTUNES: Win for Maggie O’Farrell, but no Irish authors make Booker Prize shortlist

COLERAINE-BORN Maggie O’Farrell has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction with her novel Hamnet.

Previously called the Orange Prize for Fiction, and latterly the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Women’s Prize for Fiction is one of the United Kingdom's most prestigious literary awards, worth £30,000.

O’Farrell’s Hamnet, set in 16th century England, tells the story of the death of William Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son, and examines the relationship between the playwright and his wife.

It is set against the background of a country ravaged by plague.

Speaking about winning the prize, Maggie O’Farrell told The Guardian, “I keep thinking it must be some kind of elaborate prank. There wasn’t really any particle of me that thought it would happen.

“Being on the shortlist was kind of enough and it never occurred to me they would choose my book.

“You’ve got these huge literary goddesses Mantel and Evaristo on the shortlist, they’re all such fantastic works telling such diverse stories, from different times and divergent places and perspective.”

Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

In the Booker Prize, no Irish author has made it on to the shortlist this year.

Dublin writer Colum McCann failed to make the jump from the long list with his book Apeirogon.

His seventh novel, the story is based on the true-life friendship of two men whose daughters were killed in the Middle East.

The long list of thirteen books — sometimes known as “the Booker’s dozen” — was chosen from 162 novels.

The prize can be awarded to any original novel, written in the English language, and published in the UK or Ireland.

Last week it was announced that the short list, which features only six books, did not include McCann’s Apeirogon.

Also missing from the Booker short list is early favourite Hilary Mantel, a writer with Irish roots.

She will miss out on a hat-trick of Booker Prize wins after the final instalment of her Cromwell trilogy failed to be chosen by the judges.

The six writers on the 2020 short list are Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste, Douglas Stuart and Brandon Taylor.

There are four writers of colour among the six authors, making the shortlist the most diverse line-up in the prize’s history.

The list features four women and two men.

The winner of the Booker will be announced on November 17.