Shortlist unveiled for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2021

Authors on the shortlist include George Hamilton, Sarah Gilmartin, Fintan O’Toole, Sally Rooney, Catherine Ryan Howard, Séamas O’Reilly, Donal Skehan, Sinéad Moriarty, Ray Goggins, Rosaleen McDonagh, Paul Howard, Oliver Jeffers, Jarlath Gregory, Ann Ingle, Dónal Ryan, Alan Murrin, Áine Ní Chonghaile and many, many more


  • Four new categories unveiled for 2021 - An Post Bookshop of the Year, Dubray Biography of the Year, Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year and Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year
  • In-person awards ceremony to celebrate 2021 winners will take place in Dublin on 23 November
  • TV programme announcing 'The An Post Irish Book Awards Book of the Year' winner will broadcast on RTÉ ONE on 8th December


The shortlist for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2021, announced today via a virtual video, features a diverse mix of exceptional writing from new and established writers across 20 categories, including Novel of the Year, Children’s (Junior and Senior), Cookery, Crime Fiction, Popular Fiction, Nonfiction, Sports, Short Story, Poetry, Teen and Young Adult and Irish Language. 

The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to the widest range of readers possible. Each year it brings together a vast community passionate about books – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians – to recognise the very best of Irish writing talent and 2021 is no different.

Four new categories have also been added to the initiative this year:
  • The ‘An Post Bookshop of the Year’ category which is designed to acknowledge the significant role played by independent bookshops and local book store chain branches right across the country in helping their local communities to find and savour the titles of their choice, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • The ‘Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year’ category which is aimed at acknowledging an Irish author whose work has contributed significantly to the reader experience and enjoyment of Irish books during 2021. 


  • The ‘Dubray Biography of the Year’ which will celebrate the large number of wonderful biographies from Irish writers.


  • The ‘Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year’, a category that covers a range of interesting lifestyle subjects.


As restrictions ease, the An Post Irish Book Awards team is also delighted to announce that a live in-person ceremony to celebrate the winners will take place on Tuesday 23rd November in the Convention Centre in Dublin, subject to any change in government guidelines or any change in circumstances that impact on the safety of our guests. The event will also be live-streamed for those who are unable to attend.

Meanwhile, a one-hour special will be broadcast on RTÉ One television on Wednesday 8th December exploring the six books and authors shortlisted for the ‘An Post Irish Book Awards Book of the Year 2021’, culminating in the reveal of this year's overall winner.

To tie in with the announcement of the An Post Irish Book Awards shortlist, the public are now being asked to cast their votes online for the best books of the year on the An Post Irish Book Awards website All voters will be entered into a prize draw to win one of five €100 National Book Tokens vouchers. Votes may be cast until 5pm on 15th November.

An Post is also continuing with their hugely successful #ReadersWanted campaign, celebrating the value and joy of reading and encouraging everyone to pick up more books, more often. Simply search for the hashtag online to get involved.


John Treacy, Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards, says: 

‘Like most other sectors, the book industry faced severe challenges this year: bookshops were closed; publication dates postponed; events and festivals moved online. The personal touch which we all value so much was sadly missed. But then something wonderful happened. We discovered that books were saving the sanity of thousands of readers during lockdown. Bookshops operated click-and-collect services to keep their customers supplied with the books they wanted. Our booksellers rose to the occasion, sometimes hand-delivering books to their customers. An Post also catered for everyone’s needs, while also supporting booksellers with special rates during the pandemic, which was very appreciated.

Now, thank goodness, the bookshops are open once again and The An Post Irish Book Awards season is upon us. Congratulations to all of the authors who have been shortlisted and we look forward to finding out the winners on November 23rd. In the meantime, don’t forget to vote for your favourites at the awards website.’


David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, says:

‘Books were our best companions through the Pandemic, and as we emerge, they will be our close companions too. The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate brilliant writing from a diverse universe of Irish authors. At An Post we celebrate the joy of reading for all ages, and recognise those who contribute such richness to our lives from the authors, to the publishers, the publicists to the booksellers. These truly are the best Irish books of 2021.’


Ann-Marie Power, Group Head of Arts and Culture, RTÉ says: 

‘RTÉ is delighted to support the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards as both official media partner and as sponsor of the RTÉ Audience Choice Award. Books have helped sustain many during the past year and this is a welcome opportunity to celebrate our great writers and the reading public.’



The An Post Irish Book Awards 2021 Shortlist is as follows: 


Eason Novel of the Year
  • Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney (Faber)
  • Panenka – Rónán Hession (Bluemoose)
  • Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan (Faber)
  • The Echo Camber – John Boyne (Doubleday / Transworld) 
  • The Magician – Colm Tóibín (Viking, Penguin General, Penguin Random House)
  • White City – Kevin Power (Simon & Schuster)


Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year 
  • 56 Days – Catherine Ryan Howard (Atlantic Books / Corvus)
  • All Her Fault – Andrea Mara (Transworld)
  • April in Spain – John Banville (Faber) 
  • The Dark Room – Sam Blake (Atlantic Books / Corvus)
  • The Devil’s Advocate – Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
  • The Killing Kind – Jane Casey (Harper Fiction)
Eason Sports Book of the Year In Association with Ireland AM
  • Crossing The Line – Willie Anderson with Brendan Fanning (Reach Sport)
  • Dark Blue – Shane Carthy (The O’Brien Press)
  • Devotion – Mickey Harte with Brendan Coffey (HarperCollins Ireland)
  • Fight or Flight: My Life, My Choices – Keith Earls with Tommy Conlon (Reach Sport)
  • The Nation Holds Its Breath – George Hamilton (Merrion Press)
  • Unbroken: A journey of adversity, mental strength and physical fitness – Aidan O’Mahony (Hachette Books Ireland) 


Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year 
  • A Crooked Tree – Una Mannion (Faber)
  • Boys Don’t Cry – Fíona Scarlett (Faber)
  • Dinner Party: A Tragedy – Sarah Gilmartin (Pushkin Press)
  • Diving for Pearls – Jamie O’Connell (Transworld Ireland)
  • Holding Her Breath – Eimear Ryan (Sandycove)
  • Snowflake – Louise Nealon – (Bonnier Books UK)


Odgers Berndtson Ireland Non-Fiction Book of the Year 
  • A State of Emergency – Richard Chambers (HarperCollins Ireland)
  • Between Two Hells – Diarmaid Ferriter (Profile)
  • Four Years in the Cauldron – Brian O'Donovan (Sandycove)
  • Northern Protestants: On Shifting Ground – Susan McKay (Blackstaff Press)
  • The Best Catholics in the World – Derek Scally (Sandycove)
  • We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 – Fintan O'Toole (Head of Zeus)


Dubray Biography of the Year 
  • Belonging: A Memoir of Place, Beginnings and One Woman's Search for Truth and Justice for the Tuam Babies – Catherine Corless with Naomi Linehan (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? – Séamas O'Reilly (Little, Brown Book Group)
  • Gas Man – Colin Black (HarperCollins Ireland)
  • Boy 11963 : An Irish Industrial School Childhood and an Extraordinary Search for Home - John Cameron with Kathryn Rogers (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Openhearted – Ann Ingle (Sandycove)
  • Rememberings – Sinéad O'Connor (Sandycove)


Bookselling Ireland Cookbook of the Year
  • Everyday Cook – Dónal Skehan (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • How To Cook – Darina Allen (Octopus Books)
  • Learn to Cook with Neven – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)
  • Soup Broth Bread – Rachel Allen (Penguin Random House)
  • The Daly Dish Rides Again: 100 more masso slimming meals for everyday – Gina Daly & Karol Daly (Gill Books)
  • Trisha's 21 Day Reset – Trisha Lewis (Gill Books)


National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year 
  • About Us – Sinéad Moriarty (Sandycove)
  • Aisling and the City – Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen (Gill Books)
  • Freckles – Cecelia Ahern (HarperFiction) 
  • Normal Sheeple – Ross O'Carroll Kelly (Sandycove)
  • The Guinness Girls: A Hint of Scandal – Emily Hourican (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Three Weddings and a Proposal – Sheila O’Flanagan (Headline)


Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year
  • Awaken Your Power Within – Gerry Hussey (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Decor Galore – Laura de Barra (Transworld Ireland)
  • High Hopes: Making Music, Losing My Way, Learning to Live – Steve Garrigan (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • A Cloud Where the Birds Rise: A book about love and belonging – Michael Harding and Jacob Stack (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Mind Full – Dermot Whelan (Gill Books)
  • Ranger 22: Lessons From The Front – Ray Goggins (Gill Books) Best Irish Published Book of the Year 
  • Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Shows – Sophie White (Tramp Press)
  • Look! It's a Woman Writer! – Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (Arlen House)
  • Tea for One – Alice Taylor. With photographs by Emma Byrne (Brandon, an imprint of The O'Brien Press)
  • The Coastal Atlas of Ireland – Robert Devoy, Val Cummins, Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett & Sarah Kandrot (Cork University Press) 
  • The Presidents' Letters – An Unexpected History of Ireland – Flor Mac Carthy (New Island)
  • Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature – Manchán Magan, illustrated by Steve Doogan (Gill Books)
  • Unsettled - Rosaleen McDonagh (Skein Press) 


Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) 
  • Aldrin Adams and the Cheese Nightmares – Paul Howard, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove (Penguin)
  • Lily's Dream - A Lissadell Story – Judi Curtin, illustrated by Rachel Corcoran (The O'Brien Press)
  • Mr. Spicebag – Freddie Alexander, illustrated by Helen O’Higgins (HarperCollins Ireland)
  • The Summer I Robbed A Bank – David O’Doherty, illustrated by Chris Judge (Penguin)
  • The Little Bee Charmer of Henrietta Street – Sarah Webb, illustrated by Rachel Corcoran (The O'Brien Press)
  • The Shadows of Rookhaven – Pádraig Kenny, illustrated by Edward Bettison (Macmillan Children's Books)


Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)
  • A Hug For You – David King, illustrated by Rhiannon Archard (Sandycove)
  • Evie's Christmas Wishes – Siobhán Parkinson, illustrated by Shannon Bergin (Little Island Books)
  • Maybe... – Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
  • Puffling and the Egg – Erika McGann & Gerry Daly (The O'Brien Press)
  • There's a Ghost in this House – Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Up on the Mountain – Peter Donnelly (Gill Books)


Teen / Young Adult Book of the Year 
  • Baby Teeth – Meg Grehan (Little Island Books)
  • Not My Problem – Ciara Smyth (Andersen Press)
  • Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating – Adiba Jaigirdar (Hachette Children's Group)
  • The Legend of Valentine Sorrow – Caroline Busher (Poolbeg)
  • The New Girl – Sinéad Moriarty (Gill Books)
  • What Love Looks Like – Jarlath Gregory (The O'Brien Press)


RTÉ Audience Choice Award
  • As the Smoke Clears (championed by Joe Duffy) – Zoe Holohan (Gill Books)
  • Nanny, Ma, and Me (championed by Zainab Boladale) – Jade Jordan, Dominique Jordan and Kathleen Jordan (Hachette Books Ireland)
  • Nora (championed by Seán Rocks) – Nuala O'Connor (New Island Books)
  • Openhearted (championed by Ray D'Arcy) - Ann Ingle (Sandycove)
  • Your One Wild And Precious Life (championed by Doireann Garrihy) – Dr. Maureen Gaffney (Sandycove)


Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year
  • Dónal Ryan 
  • John Boyne
  • Liz Nugent
  • Marian Keyes
  • Maggie O’Farrell
  • Rónán Hession Short Story of the Year 
  • Blackthorns – Bernard MacLaverty – from Blank Pages & Other Stories (Jonathan Cape)
  • Coming In On Time – Stuart Neville – from The Traveller and Other Stories (Bonnier Books UK)
  • Little Lives – Deirdre Sullivan – from I Want to Know That I Will Be OK (Banshee Press)
  • The Leaving Place – Jan Carson – from The Black Dreams (Blackstaff Press)
  • The Wake – Alan Murrin – from Waves of Change (Fresher Publishing)
  • Worms – Roddy Doyle – from Life Without Children (Jonathan Cape)


Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year 
  • Driftwood – Karen J McDonell (The Cormorant Book/Tread Softly Publishing, August 2021)
  • Glissando – Noel King (Cyphers, April 2021)
  • Longboat at Portaferry – Siobhán Campbell (New Hibernia Review, July 2021)
  • Sestina for the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze – Michael Naghten Shanks (New Irish Writing / Independent, March 2021)


The Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year
  • An Cheathrú Rua agus na hOileáin sa Naoú hAois Déag – Áine Ní Chonghaile (CIC)
  • Inní – Réaltán Ní Leannáin (Éabhlóid)
  • Madame Lazare – Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin (Barzaz)
  • Mé Suibhne – Feargal Ó Béarra (Leabhar Breac)
  • Ré na bhFathach – Colm Ó Ceallacháin (Leabhar Breac)


The An Post Bookshop of the Year
  • Bridge Books – Dromore 
  • Bridge Street Books – Wicklow 
  • Carrigaline Bookshop – Carrigaline 
  • Charlie Byrne's Bookshop – Galway 
  • Halfway Up the Stairs – Greystones 
  • Hodges Figgis – Dublin 2
  • Kenny's Bookshop & Art Gallery – Galway 
  • Kerr's Bookshop – Clonakilty 
  • Little Acorns Bookstore – Derry 
  • Maynooth Bookshop – Maynooth 
  • No Alibis Bookstore – Belfast 
  • Tertulia Bookshop – Westport
  • The Company of Books – Dublin 6
  • Woodbine Books – Kilcullen
  • Woulfe's Bookshop – Listowel


Pictures by Patrick Bolger


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