Since the inauguration of the Hennessy Awards in 1971, adjudicated by William Trevor and Elizabeth Bowen, the judges have changed each year to ensure openness and independence. Among the many distinguished writers who have acted as judges are Brian Friel. Edna O'Brien, Sean O'Faolain, DM Thomas, Paul Durcan, Glenn Patterson. Colm Toibin, Roddy Doyle, Bernard Farrell, Fay Weldon, Patrick McGrath, Carlo Gebler, Philp Hensher and Beryl Bainbridge.
This year's judges Theo Dorgan (right) and Peter Straus continue this tradition. Cork-born Dorgan's poetry collections include The Ordinary House of Love, Rosa Mundi and Sappho's Daughter.
A new collection, Greek, was published by Dedalus in 2010 and his first novel, Making Way, came out last year.
A former director of Poetry Ireland, and co-director of Cork Film Festival, he has worked extensively as a broadcaster of literary programmes on radio and television, notably Poetry Now and The Invisible Thread. He was co-editor of The Great Book of Ireland and Revising the Rising.
Peter Straus has been in the book world for over 20 years, working with Hodder and Stoughton, Hamish Hamilton and Macmillan, where he worked with authors such as Cormac McCarthy, Don De Lillo, Helen Fielding, VS Naipaul and Michael Ondaatje.
His advice to writers is not to second-guess the market, but to persevere and write authentically.
"Passion, commitment and drive can take you far – underpinned, of course, by the requisite talent. One needs to have a thick skin for criticism of any kind. Evelyn Waugh's rubric 'when someone criticises me I think what an ass and when someone praises me I think what an ass' is a tad extreme, but worth having in the back of one's mind at all times."