Sunday 23 April 2017

Barry's delight as book inspired by gay son wins second Costa award

Author Sebastian Barry celebrates his win at the 2016 Costa Book of the Year Award in London. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Author Sebastian Barry celebrates his win at the 2016 Costa Book of the Year Award in London. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Irish writer Sebastian Barry has emulated the feat of Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney in winning the Costa Book of the Year twice.

The Dublin-born writer won the €35,000 (£30,000) prize after his novel 'Days Without End' was named the 2016 Costa Book of the Year at a gala awards ceremony in London last night.

It follows his winning of the 2008 Costa Book of the Year award for his novel 'The Secret Scripture'. That novel was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

He joins poets Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes as the only other writers to have won the award - regarded as the UK's most prestigious literary award - twice.

His novel was described by author Kate Williams, chair of the judging panel - which included Cork comedian and author Graham Norton - as "an absolutely magnificent, incredible book".

The novel, which the author said was inspired by his son's coming out as a gay man, is set during the Famine when Irish migrant Thomas McNulty flees Ireland for America in the 1850s and fights as a soldier in the US Civil War.

The story of McNulty's gay relationship with fellow soldier John Cole was described by one of the judges as "one of the most wonderful depictions of love in the whole of fiction".

Mr Barry (61), who lives in Co Wicklow, was buoyant when he was announced as the overall winner.

"You have made me crazy happy from the top of my head to my toes in a way that is a little bit improper at 61," he told the judges at the ceremony.

Mr Barry beat out fellow nominees Keggie Carew for her biography of her father Tom Carew in 'Dadland' as well as poet Alice Oswald for 'Falling Awake'. Other contenders for the overall prize were children's writer Brian Conaghan for 'The Bombs That Brought Us Together' and non-fiction writer Francis Spufford for his debut novel 'Golden Hill'.

Irish Independent

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