It would take a better man than yours truly not to be even slightly disappointed by the events which transpired at the Concert Hall in the RDS last night. For lo! It came to pass that BLOODLAND by Alan Glynn (right) scooped the Ireland AM Crime Fiction gong at the Irish Book Awards, in the process putting to the sword his fellow nominees Casey Hill, Jane Casey, William Ryan, Benjamin Black and your humble correspondent.
Yes, it’s true that Team Liberties Press went along more in hope than expectation, but even so, it would have been nice to win. The good news is that Alan Glynn is one of life’s good guys; and while that really shouldn’t matter, it kind of does. The guy is a gentleman, in all senses of the word, and I was very pleased indeed to see him ascending the steps to pick up his award.
Just as importantly, or more importantly at the moment, perhaps, BLOODLAND is a terrific novel, and a very worthy winner of the award. I reviewed said tome on these pages a couple of weeks ago; if you’ve yet to read it, I humbly suggest you do so as soon as your TBR list allows.
Meanwhile, spare a thought for Jane Casey. She’s been shortlisted for the prize two years in a row now, and has left empty-handed on both occasions. Here’s hoping that next year will be her year …
As for the evening itself, I had an absolutely smashing time. It was terrific, as always, to catch up with the likes of Alan and Jane, and Bill Ryan, and to meet Casey Hill - aka Melissa and Kevin Hill - for the first time. Arlene Hunt was there too, and Bob Johnston of the Gutter Bookshop; I met with Sarah Webb, and briefly got to congratulate Sarah Carey, whose THE REAL REBECCA won the Young Adult award; the inimitable Vanessa O’Loughlin of writing.ie was there; and the marvellous Margaret Daly, and Cormac Kinsella and Declan Heeney, valiant soldiers in the book-promotion business all. I also got to meet, very briefly, with one of my childhood heroes, Ronnie Whelan, formerly of Ireland and Liverpool FC - and when I say ‘meet’, I mean I barged up to him, grabbed his hand, and muttered something about being a huge fan when I was a kid. All very embarrassing, of course, moreso for Ronnie than myself, probably, but a real thrill all the same. They really don’t make them like Ronnie Whelan anymore.
And then there was our own table, which was for the most part taken up by the Team Liberties, including Caroline Lambe, Alice Dawson, Daniel Bolger and publisher Sean O’Keefe. The craic, as they say, was only mighty, and great fun was had by all, and I was delighted that they all turned up mob-handed to lend their support and enjoy the night in their own right. It was a pity we couldn’t take away an award to reward their faith and commitment to ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, but then, you can’t have everything, and we did get tiramisu, and a very strong rumour that AZC will be published in India in the near future. So these things do even out in the end.
So there you have it. The heartiest of warm congratulations to Alan Glynn on his well deserved win last night, and upward and onward for the rest of us. There is, after all, next year to look forward to.
Meanwhile, here’s a wee taste of what Ronnie Whelan was capable of, with THAT goal against Russia at Euro ’88. Roll it there, Collette …
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “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.