Breakout author Emma Donoghue was the big winner at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards last night as she came away with the Hughes & Hughes Novel of the Year Award for her novel Room.
Loosely inspired by the Josef Fritzl case in Austria in 2008, Room tells the story of a boy who lives with his mother in a locked room. It was much-acclaimed and just missed out on winning the Man Booker Prize.
The Dublin-born writer said she believed the book touched on the universal theme of a young person discovering there was more to life than the confines of their own little world.
The shortlist for the prestigious prize included works by Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín and Joseph O’Connor, as well as Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, winner of last year’s US National Book Award.
Other winners on the night included Neil Richardson in the non-fiction category for his depiction of Irishmen’s fight in the first World War, A Coward if I Return, a Hero if I Fall. Ex-footballer John Giles won the Energise Sport Irish Sports Book of the Year for his autobiography.
Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s The Oh My God Delusion beat competition from Sheila O’Flanagan, Cathy Kelly and Amy Huberman to win The Easons Irish Popular Fiction Book of the Year.
Another book that took its inspiration from the economic boom and bust was Dark Times in the City, which won out in the crime fiction category.
The Best Newcomer of the Year Award went to RTÉ broadcaster Ryan Tubridy’s JFK in Ireland: Four Days that Changed a President.
Cork hurler Donal Óg Cusack’s autobiography Come What May, ghostwritten by sports writer Tom Humphries, won the RTÉ Radio 1’s The John Murray Show Listeners’ Choice Award. The book was well-received by the nation for its frank and honest revelations about Cusack’s sexuality.
Children’s book awards were presented to Niamh Sharkey for On the Road with Mavis and Marge and Derek Landy for Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil.
The winners in each category were decided by a combination of public and Irish Literary Academy votes. The ceremony took place in the Mansion House last night and was attended by President Mary McAleese.
One of Ireland’s best-known and loved author’s Maeve Binchy was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the gala.
She joins a distinguished list of previous recipients, which includes John McGahern, William Trevor and Edna O’Brien.
Binchy has sold more than 40 million books around the world. Many of her novels, including Circle of Friends and Tara Road, have also been depicted on the silver screen.
Accepting the accolade she said, “An award like this ’in front of your own’ is very special. I never thought of myself as a person who would get an award. I’m just a storyteller.”