Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Irish Book Awards: And The Winner Is …

The Irish Book Awards shortlists were announced last night, with the details coming courtesy of Irish Publishing News, and congratulations to all nominees, and particularly RTE’s Ryan Tubridy, whose JFK IN IRELAND was nominated in three categories, despite being published on October 28th - the day the awards shortlists were announced. Which isn’t bad going, and reflects incredibly well on the (koff) perspicacity of the judging panel. Not that I begrudge Tubbers his nominations, I like him a lot as a radio presenter, and he’s done more than his fair share to promote Irish books over the years. Still, nominations in three categories, for a book published on the day of the award nominations? It wouldn’t be like the Irish Book Awards folk to be chasing the RTE imprimatur, would it?
  Anyhoo, onto the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year category, in which six novels are represented. To wit:
CITY OF LOST GIRLS by Declan Hughes
TIME OF DEATH by Alex Barclay
FAITHFUL PLACE by Tana French
THE MISSING by Jane Casey
DARK TIMES IN THE CITY by Gene Kerrigan
THE TWELVE by Stuart Neville
  Given the nature of such lists, and the fact that last year was the strongest yet for Irish crime writing, there’s bound to be a bit of ‘Oi, but where’s …?’ etc. And, while it’s hard to quibble with most of the nominations, there are some notable absentees. No Ken Bruen, for starters. No Colin Bateman. No Adrian McKinty, Arlene Hunt or Brian McGilloway, all of whom published the finest novels of their career to date in the last twelve months. There’s also no PEELER by Kevin McCarthy, which was one of the best Irish crime novels of 2010, nor THE HOLY THIEF by William Ryan (which was nominated for a CWA award), and ditto for Conor Fitzgerald’s very fine THE DOGS OF ROME. McCarthy, Ryan and Fitzgerald are debutant writers, of course, but they don’t show up in the Best Newcomer of the Year either, although it’s good to see that Niamh O’Connor’s IF I DON’T SEE YOU AGAIN does make a showing there, as does Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE.
  The glaring absentee for me, though, is Alan Glynn’s WINTERLAND, which has a strong claim on being the best Irish crime novel of the last five years, let alone the last twelve months. Doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to me, but then what would I know, I’m just blinded by bitterness that they didn’t take my Kindle-only publication of CRIME ALWAYS PAYS under consideration. Boo, etc.
  Elsewhere, it’s nice to see that Ed O’Loughlin’s NOT UNTRUE & NOT UNKIND made the Best Newcomer list, although it’s more than disappointing that it’s not nestling in the Irish Novel of the Year category. I’ve only read two in that category, Paul Murray’s SKIPPY DIES and Colm Toibin’s BROOKLYN, and while SKIPPY DIES is a terrific book, NOT UNTRUE & NOT UNKIND is by any measure superior to the vastly overrated BROOKLYN. Incidentally, and while we’re on an Alan Glynn-related rant, WINTERLAND deserved its place in the Irish Novel of the Year category as well as the Crime Fiction one.
  Staying with the Best Newcomer award for a moment, does anyone seriously believe that Amy Huberman’s debut offering was a better novel than Peter Murphy’s JOHN THE REVELATOR? Like, seriously?
  Elsewhere, Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: MORTAL COIL turns up in the Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) category, and here at CAP we send out all kinds of good vibes to Benji Bennett, whose self-published ADAM’S PIRATE TREASURE made the Junior category.
  Finally, how did Ruth Dudley Edwards’ epic AFTERMATH: THE OMAGH BOMBING (which won the CWA non-fiction prize) not manage to make it into the Non-Fiction Book of the Year category? What were the judges thinking of? Too busy ensuring that Amy Huberman’s HELLO HEARTBREAK was squeezed into two categories, perhaps, in order to provide a little glamour for the awards ceremony?
  Two words, folks: FOR. SHAME.