Tuesday 16 January 2018

Barry 'very happy' about Booker nomination

Allison Bray

ACCLAIMED novelist, playwright and poet Sebastian Barry has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for the third time.

The 56-year-old Dubliner was among 13 writers -- including four first-time novelists -- who were selected for the longlist in London yesterday.

Mr Barry has been shortlisted twice before for the award, considered one of the world's most coveted literary prizes.

Speaking last night from his home in the Wicklow mountains, he said he was hoping it would be third time lucky with his latest novel 'On Canaan's Side'.

"I was thinking: 'three times? Get a grip on yourself here'," he said.

His previous novel 'The Secret Scripture' was shortlisted in 2008 before it was named the Costa Book of the Year.

Prior to that, 'A Long Long Way' was shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker, which was won by his friend and fellow Irish writer John Banville for 'The Sea'.

He found out the good news when, as he was walking past the site of his grandmother's old cottage in the mountains, his publicist rang him on his mobile. At the time he was tapping on her gatepost, something he has done since he was a child.

"It was a big thing when I was five and I still do it," he joked.

Ironically, that very house features in his latest work. It re-traces the life story of a feisty 89-year-old woman called Lilly Bere who is forced to flee Dublin as a young woman and start a new life in the American midwest after World War One.

The character, inspired by an extraordinary Irish-American woman who Barry once met as a child, is a spin-off of characters introduced in his previous works 'A Long Long Way' and 'The Steward of Christendom'.

Barry -- who will receive £50,000 (€56,358) if he wins the award -- said that being nominated for the Booker Prize couldn't have come at a better time since his novels were normally published in May but his latest work was only just hitting the bookshelves here this week.

"I'm very happy to have that in my pocket," he said of the prize nomination.

The shortlist will be announced on September 6, while the winner will be announced on October 18.

Irish Independent

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