IT is scandalous to suggest that this blog is in some way in the pay of the James Joyce Jolly bursary to promote writers of Irish descent. It is true that I took a drink (an obscure poteen derivation) from the Irish chef Richard Corrigan. And I was recently in receipt of an email from one Joseph O’Connor who was having trouble with his Proust. I protest my innocence. But here is yet more corroboration of Irish literacy.
The once great (and in this regard perhaps still great) Sunday Times of London awards its Audible Short Story Award worth £30,000 to Niamh Campbell of Dublin. And blow me down if last year’s winner was not Danielle McLaughlin from Cork who became the third Irish writer in four years to also win the most lucrative literary award of our times in the Windham-Campbell Prize being worth £165,000. Her Art of Falling is already being talked up as the novel of 2021.
But as of Niamh, you don’t really need to read/or listen very far into her winning story Love Many to be convinced that her economy of phrase, her directness, her confidence in this semi fiction – because it is an autobiographical, ongoing romance, so in that sense she has played a trump card – gallops along. Recovering from a broken heart she embarks on a series of encounters via Tinder.
“I was wearing my passive-aggressive first date ensemble of plain blouse and faded jeans, with no jewellery and a plaque lipstick, pillar box red”. And stiletto heels. She meets a boy in combat boots….
In interview Campbell suggests Irish writing is resurgent because of shared social upheavals in divorce, contraception, abortion plus of course the troubles and the economic extremes so there is something topical, meaningful and fresh to be transcribed. “A commonality of experience” she says. Also in 1996 university fees were abolished so these are a highly educated generation. She has a novel This Happy (W&N which is brand speak for Weidenfeld and Nicolson , after George and Nigel, founded 1949) which I will get to soon.
Her name Niamh, is old Irish equivalent of Neve meaning radiance.
You can hear her story here and other finalists also last year’s winner Danielle McLaughlin at https://www.shortstoryaward.co.uk/awards/2020/