Irish Book Awards

Iconic Irish American novelist J.P. Donleavy to be honoured with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2015

November 19, 2015

Irish American novelist J.P. Donleavy will be honoured at this year’s ‘Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards’ with the ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’ for 2015. He will be presented with the award at the annual Awards Dinner in the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Dublin on the night of November 25th.

Donleavy will join the hall of fame of other distinguished Irish writers who have received the ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’ in the past, including Paul Durcan, John Banville, Maeve Binchy, John McGahern, Edna O’ Brien, William Trevor, Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney and Jennifer Johnston.

In 1946, a young American, J.P ‘Mike’ Donleavy, arrived in Dublin to take up his studies at Trinity College. In the post-war euphoria he found a natural home in the bohemian Dublin of Behan and Kavanagh, drinking in celebrated literary pubs McDaid’s and Davy Byrnes. It is here that he received his real education and the resulting thesis is his 1955 novel, The Ginger Man, an anarchic, light-hearted, rambunctious twentieth-century classic following the social and sexual peregrinations of a footloose American on the streets and in the pubs of Dublin. Dorothy Parker called it ‘stunning…brilliant…the picaresque novel to stop them all. Lusty, violent, wildly funny, it is a rigadoon of rascality, a bawled-out comic song of sex’.

Banned in Ireland until 1968, the novel went on to become a true classic, cited as one of the best 100 novels of the twentieth century. It has been translated into some two dozen languages including Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Brendan Behan predicted that it was destined to ‘go around the world, and beat the bejaysus out of the Bible’. Behan got the first part right. Since its first publication in 1955, the novel has sold close to 50 million copies, bringing more tourists to Dublin’s Trinity College (where it was set) than the Book of Kells.

According to the Board of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards:
“Any book sold keeps Yeat’s “greasy till” chiming but there are certain books booksellers actively enjoy recommending to their customers and Irish booksellers have been recommending and selling The Ginger Man for six decades. It is those good friends of the book trade that our Lifetime Achievement Award is designed to honour, and J.P. Donleavy is indeed one such friend.”

This is the tenth year of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, which are dedicated to honouring Irish writers across the entire publishing spectrum. This year’s shortlist features a diverse array of acclaimed authors and well known Irish personalities including literary heavyweights Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín, Belinda McKeon, Donal Ryan and John Boyne, newcomers Sara Baume and Danielle McLoughlin, celebrated sporting figures Henry Shefflin, Jim McGuiness and Packie Bonner, and popular fiction bestselling writers Ross O’ Carroll Kelly, Cecilia Ahern and Sinead Moriarty.

RTÉ Television will be broadcasting the highlights of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards on RTÉ One on Saturday, 28 November. This programme will showcase one of the biggest celebrations of Irish writing with many of Ireland’s most celebrated and loved authors in attendance.

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