Novelist Dwyer Hickey takes top prize at festival

Novelist Christine Dwyer Hickey won the top prize of €15,000 for her latest work, The Cold Eye of Heaven, at the 41st Listowel Writers’ Week, last night.

There was tough competition for the coveted Kerry Group Irish Novel Award and the other shortlisted authors were Kevin Barry, Carlo Gébler, Anne Enright, and Belinda McKeon.

Set in Dublin, Ms Hickey’s novel tells the 75-year life story of a man and the dialogue is peppered with the accent, speech, and turn of phrase for which the capital city is noted.

Presenting the award, Kerry Group corporate affairs director Frank Hayes said it celebrated excellence in Irish fiction writing and the shortlist included five exceptionally talented Irish writers whose work would continue to enhance Ireland’s literary reputation.

The inaugural John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award, in association with Mercier Press, was presented by President Michael D Higgins, who officially opened the festival, to veteran poet Anthony Cronin.

Writers’ Week features a number of events celebrating the life and work of Keane to mark the10th anniversary of his death.

President Higgins described the Listowel literary giant as fearless, a writer not afraid to confront head-on the harrowing issues of emigration and rural hardship, or the fierce destructiveness that could ensue from the unique Irish attachment to family land.

“He was a man not afraid to dig deep into his own sense of anger and indignation and to transmute those dark emotions into unforgettable plays and stories.”

Writers’ Week continues until Sunday, with appearances from Germaine Greer, Patrick deWitt, Simon Armitage, Carol Birch, Anne Enright, Paul Howard, John Lanchester, Colm Toibin, Maureen Gaffney, Paul Durcan, Sarah Webb, Des Bishop, Jeremy Strong, and many more.

The festival will also feature theatre, art exhibitions, bus and walking tours and several children’s events.

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