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Jeffrey Archer with Cecelia Ahern at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Jeffrey Archer with Cecelia Ahern at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

26/11/14 Jeffrey Archer with Paul Howard at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

26/11/14 Jeffrey Archer with Paul Howard at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Daniel and Majella O'Donnell at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Daniel and Majella O'Donnell at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Jeffrey Archer with Rachel Allen at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Jeffrey Archer with Rachel Allen at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Claudia Carroll at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

Claudia Carroll at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

Graham Norton and Cathy Kelly at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Graham Norton and Cathy Kelly at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Brian O'Driscoll with his Bord Gais Energy Sports Book Award at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Brian O'Driscoll with his Bord Gais Energy Sports Book Award at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

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Jeffrey Archer with Cecelia Ahern at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

Did a debut novelist really write a better book than old hands like Colm Toibin, John Boyne and Joe O'Connor? Is the BOD book really better than Keano's? And why does Jeffrey Archer deserve a special award in Ireland?

It wouldn't be the annual Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards if it didn't raise a few eyebrows, and the results last night were no exception.

The outcome is decided by votes from the public coupled with votes from a large and anonymous "literary academy" in a convoluted system that is far from transparent. So maybe a few surprises are not surprising.

The most prestigious award is Novel of the Year, which went to acclaimed short story writer Mary Costello from Galway for her first novel 'Academy Street'.

It tells the story of Tess, who grows up on a west of Ireland farm in the 1940s, trains as a nurse and emigrates to the US where she lives on Academy Street in Upper Manhattan. It is beautifully written but a little dreary at times, given the way the passive Tess meekly accepts all the unfortunate things that happen in her life.

And worthy though it is, it is surprising that it came in ahead of Toibin's 'Nora Webster' or Boyne's 'A History of Loneliness'.

The Sports Book of the Year award went to BOD, despite parts of the book - like his sojourn in New York which ended in the slammer - reading like Ross O'Carroll Kelly minus the humour. There will be few footie fans who will accept that it is better than Roy Keane's book which, thanks to Roddy Doyle, is a far better read.

The choice of Graham Norton's 'Life and Loves of a He Devil' as the Non-Fiction Book of the Year ahead of Frank Connolly's 'Tom Gilmartin' again shows the problem with the way categories in the Book Awards are organised. It's apples and oranges. Norton's book is hilarious, apart from the chapter on the dogs, but how can you compare it to the story of the builder who exposed political corruption?

The Lifetime Achievement award went to poet Paul Durcan. That's one, at least, they got right.

Irish Independent