Top writers gather to celebrate the word
This year's Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards highlight depth of country's writing talent, writes Andrea Byrne
IN what was a much-welcome antidote to the enduring economic malaise, Ireland's finest literary luminaries descended on the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin on Thursday evening for the much-anticipated announcement of the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards shortlist.
Among those enjoying the wine and canapes were Cecilia Ahern, Paul Howard, Derek Landy (recent winner of the Book of the Decade), Michael Murphy, Ryan Tubridy, Alex Barclay, Matt Cooper and Sarah Moriarty.
Four Sunday Independent journalists have been shortlisted: Senator Shane Ross, Nick Webb, Joseph O'Connor and Gene Kerrigan.
Senator Ross was "surprised but pleased" by the nomination for Irish Non- Fiction Book of the Year for Wasters, which he co-wrote with Nick Webb.
Two-time Irish Book Awards nominee Cecelia Ahern was also surprised by her nomination in the category of The John Murray Show Listeners' Choice Award. "It could be third time lucky," she laughed. "Ah no, I don't mind, obviously it would be lovely to win, but it is an honour to even be nominated."
Mum-of-one Cecelia, who looked stunning in a black shift dress and skyscraper Louboutin heels, joked about how nice it was to be "out of the house for an evening".
For Ryan Tubridy, being nominated in two categories for his debut book JFK in Ireland was "an honour and a privilege and very humbling". The broadcaster, who was still reeling from the success of his book launch the previous night, added, "to be here sitting in the corner of the room talking to 'real' authors is really strange, and I quite like it".
Speaking about the importance of the Irish Book Awards, chairman Tom Owens said, "These industry-wide awards allow us to showcase the rich and diverse selection of Irish writing available and we are proud to say that 2010 has produced a fine selection of books that would rival any on the world stage.
"In these difficult times, nothing represents value for money better than a book and it is important to use these awards as a platform to celebrate our Irish authors and recognise their talent."
The public are being asked to cast their vote as to who they think deserves to win each award and can do so via the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards website www.irishbookawards.ie. Each person who votes will be in with a chance of winning one of five €100 National Book Token vouchers. Votes can be cast until midnight on November 21.
The Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards gala awards ceremony will take place in The Round Room at the Mansion House in Dublin on Thursday, November 25. John Murray, presenter of The John Murray Show on RTE Radio 1, and Sinead Desmond, anchor of the TV3's Ireland AM will be hosting the celebrations on the night. It promises to be the literary event of the year.