Friday 14 December 2018

Non-fiction authors top off strong year with 28 award nominations

Non-fiction titles feature in eight of the categories in this year's An Post Irish Books Awards shortlists

Joanna Donnelly
Joanna Donnelly

Hilary A White

To see 28 titles across eight categories in this year's An Post Irish Book Awards is evidence of a very strong year for non-fiction in publishing.

Some real beauties adorn the shortlist for the TheJournal.ie Best Irish Published Book of the Year. Roger O'Reilly's Lighthouses Of Ireland (Collins Press) is a companion piece to the recent RTE series, while People On The Pier (New Island) also shines light on a storied maritime history. Gill Books have two entries - Prof Luke O'Neill's Humanology, and The Great Irish Weather Book, Joanna Donnelly and Fuchsia Macaree's celebration of the most discussed subject in Ireland. More fare for younger readers is found in Dr Hibernica Finch's Compelling Compendium Of Irish Animals (Little Island) by Rob Maguire and Aga Grandowicz.

Rounding off that category is Blazing A Trail: Irish Women Who Changed The World (O'Brien) by Sarah Webb & Lauren O'Neill, which also gets a nod for the National Book Tokens Children's Book Of The Year (Senior) alongside The Secret Science (Scholastic) from Dara O Briain. Another double nominee is Emily Pine's Notes To Self (Tramp Press). It features in both our own Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year - where it is joined by Mind On Fire (Penguin), Arnold Thomas Fanning's indelible memoir - as well as the Onside Non-Fiction Book of the Year. The shortlist for the latter category sees well-received biographical works such as Lynne Ruane's People Like Me (Gill), Robert Ballagh's A Reluctant Memoir (Head of Zeus), and broadcaster Matt Cooper's Michael O'Leary (Penguin). Diarmaid Ferriter returns with On The Edge (Profile), a history of island society, while Climate Justice (Bloomsbury) sees Mary Robinson tackle the greatest issue facing mankind. It's great to see the environment also make it into the National Book Tokens Children's Book Of The Year (Junior) category with Here We Are (HarperCollins), Oliver Jeffers' poignant love letter to Earth.

A relatively new category, the Ireland AM Popular Non- Fiction Book of the Year, has a bemusing variety of subject matter. Two favourites stand out - Tony 10 (Gill) Declan Lynch's sweaty telling of former postman Tony O'Reilly who gambled jaw-dropping amounts of other people's money, and John Connell's unstoppable pastoral memoir, The Cow Book (Granta). Jennifer Rock's The Skin Nerd (Hachette) and Marianne Power's Help Me! (Picador) deal with health and wellbeing in new ways.

Country & western star Nathan Carter is in the mix with Born For The Road (Penguin Ireland), as is "Dancing Des Cahill" with Play It Again, Des (Sport Media).

Racecar driver Rosemary Smith (Driven, HarperCollins), Wexford hurling institution Davy Fitzgerald (At All Costs, Gill), boxer Andy Lee (Fighter, Gill), and Tyrone footballer Sean Cavanagh (The Obsession, Black and White) all have biographies in the Bord Gais Energy Sports Book of the Year. Cora Staunton's Game Changer (Transworld) distinguishes itself by being the first autobiography by a female GAA star. Paul Rouse's The Hurlers (Penguin) delves into the history of the game.

Finally, Luise Ghabhanach Ni Dhufaigh: Ceannrodai (Comhar), Celia de Freine's biography of the Irish-language pioneer that is shortlisted for the first Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book Of The Year category.

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