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Best-selling author Sally Rooney takes home €20,000 literary prize

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Irish novelist Sally Rooney at The Tramyard as part of the Dalkey Book Festival. (Picture Conor McCabe Photography)

Irish novelist Sally Rooney at The Tramyard as part of the Dalkey Book Festival. (Picture Conor McCabe Photography)

Irish novelist Sally Rooney at The Tramyard as part of the Dalkey Book Festival. (Picture Conor McCabe Photography)

Author Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You has been announced as Novel of the Year at the Dalkey Literary Awards.

Described by the judges as “the most ambitious” of her books so far, the Normal People author will receive €20,000 in prize money while Kerry-based poet Victoria Kennefick won this year’s Emerging Writer Award for her stunning collection Eat Or We Both Starve. She will be awarded €10,000.

Each category had three judges who each reviewed the five shortlisted authors and selected one overall winner.

The judges were: Frederick Studemann, Elaine Feeney and Willie White for Novel of the Year, and Madeleine Keane, Martina Devlin and Hugh Linehan for Emerging Writer.

The judges commended Beautiful World, Where Are You saying Rooney’s “characters are minutely and sympathetically observed and her handling of tone, language and abundant ideas assured as she weaves a story of love and sex and friendship through an Anthropocene of vicious ideologies, failing systems and failed communication.”

The judges commended Beautiful World, Where Are You calling it “the most ambitious of Sally Rooney’s books so far; it is exciting to experience her accomplishment in this determinedly contemporary Irish novel.”

They added “Her characters are minutely and sympathetically observed and her handling of tone, language and abundant ideas assured as she weaves a story of love and sex and friendship through an Anthropocene of vicious ideologies, failing systems and failed communication.”

Despite a diverse range of titles and genres vying for the Emerging Writer award, the judges agreed that Victoria Kennefick is a worthy winner.

Commenting on Eat Or We Both Starve, the judges said “This is a slim volume with an impact that's heavy-hitting. It delivers everything one looks for in a piece of writing: emotional heft, story, nuance, hope, memorability; and because it's also quirky, it has the element of surprise. Victoria Kennefick is a poet who can hold her own on the international stage.”

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