Winner of John McGahern Book Prize for Debut Irish Fiction announced

Winner of the John McGahern Prize

Aingeala Flannery’s novel, The Amusements (Penguin), has been chosen by esteemed novelist Colm Tóibín as the winner of the John McGahern Prize for debut book of Irish fiction published in 2022.

Aingeala will read from her winning novel and will be presented with her £5,000 prize at the Liverpool Literary Festival on Saturday 7 October at 11.30am.

Author Aingeala Flannery. Picture: Bríd O’Donovan

The McGahern Prize is just the latest success for The Amusements – earlier this year it was named the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2023 and has gained widespread acclaim amongst critics.

The prize, inaugurated and sponsored by the Institute of Irish Studies is now in its fourth year, has been won previously by Adrian Duncan for Love Notes from a German Building Site (Lilliput); Hilary Fannin for The Weight of Love (Doubleday) and last year by Louise Kennedy for The End of the World is a Cul de Sac (Bloomsbury).

The prestigious prize was established by the University’s Institute of Irish Studies to promote new Irish fiction and to celebrate the memory of one of Ireland’s greatest masters of prose fiction, John McGahern (1934-2006).

Tóibín said of The Amusements: “Aingeala Flannery captures domestic scenes and intimate family dramas with an acute eye and a profound sense of sympathy. Some scenes are rendered with brilliant comic timing and gusto; in other scenes, she dramatizes the conflict between generations and between neighbours with insight and flair. She links the stories and the characters with real ingenuity so that a picture emerges not just of a small seaside town on the south coast of Ireland but an entire society in a state of restlessness and flux.”

Professor Pete Shirlow, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies, remarked on the continuing strength of entries for the John McGahern Prize: “Now that the prize is in its fourth year, we are delighted here at the Institute to continue our support of emerging Irish writing. Every year we have been impressed with the strength of the field and I am pleased to see another worthy winner in The Amusements from a writer with a special talent for narrating the lives of a community we all recognize but often fail to fully see.”

Also shortlisted for this year’s prize were Niamh Mulvey’s Hearts & Bones: Love Songs for Late Youth (Picador); and Niamh Prior’s Catchlights (JM Originals).

You can read Aingeala’s full interview with the Irish Times here.

Entries for the John McGahern Prize 2023 are now open:

You can book tickets for Aingeala Flannery’s event at the Liverpool Literary Festival here.