The winner of the twenty-sixth Christopher Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize, worth £7,500, will be announced in late April 2020 in Dublin.
The work eligible covers a two-year period (2018 and 2019) and has produced a wide and stimulating variety of entries. In arriving at a final short-list the judges stressed that they had chosen works that embodied the objectives of the Prize, which are to promote and encourage peace and reconciliation in Ireland, a greater understanding between the peoples of Britain and Ireland, or closer co-operation between the partners of the European Community. These are the ideals which inspired Christopher Ewart-Biggs and to which his widow Jane subsequently dedicated herself.
Given the rubric of the Prize, and the strong commitment to Europe of both Jane and Christopher Ewart-Biggs, a separate Ewart-Biggs prize, also of £7,500, will in addition be awarded this year, to a work dealing with the implications of Brexit for Ireland, Britain and Europe.
Speaking for the Judges, Professor Roy Foster said:
“The function of this Prize is to enhance understanding between people, which often involves re-examining the past on both an individual and a communal level, perhaps especially in relation to the continuing effects of endemic violence. This year we have shortlisted a distinguished range of work which reflects this in different ways. There are two notably brilliant works of fiction, each giving a unique and unsettling perspective on inter-communal violence; a study of how history is processed in Ulster through ‘social memory’, and also ‘social forgetting’; a forensic and hypnotically readable study of the ‘disappearing’ of a victim of violence; an analysis of the scandal over ‘renewable energy’ in the province which casts new light on how government works in Northern Ireland; and an acclaimed television series giving a new voice and a fresh insight into the everyday realities of the Troubles as experienced by resilient and irreverent teenagers.
“The four short-listed works dealing with Ireland and Brexit include striking and succinct studies by two stellar journalists, a thoughtful analysis by an economic historian with deep roots in Europe as well as Ireland, and the accessible and deeply perceptive contributions on social media by a powerful analytical intelligence. Each work has clarified in uncompromising terms the implications for Ireland and Europe of the 2016 referendum, and also helped us to see how that result came about.”
The six shortlisted entries for the Memorial Prize are:
- Guy Beiner, Forgetful Remembrance: social forgetting and vernacular historiography of a rebellion in Ulster (Oxford University Press)
- Anna Burns, Milkman (Faber & Faber)
- Michael Hughes, Country (John Murray Press)
- Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: a true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland (William Collins)
- Sam McBride, Burned: the inside story of the ‘cash-for-ash’ scandal and Northern Ireland’s secretive new elite (Merrion Press)
- Lisa McGee [writer] and Michael Lennox [director], ‘Derry Girls’ Series 1 (Channel 4 Television, distributed by Hat Trick International)
The four short-listed entries for the Prize for a work dealing with the implications of Brexit are:
- Tony Connelly, Brexit and Ireland: the dangers, the opportunities and the inside story of the Irish response (Penguin)
- Katy Hayward, @hayward_katy, the Twitter account on which she provides her own political and sociological account of the Brexit process as it unfolds, as well as curating an up-to-date link to a range of work by other authorities.
- Kevin O’Rourke, A Short History of Brexit: from Brentry to Backstop (Pelican)
- Fintan O’Toole, Heroic Failure: Brexit and the politics of pain (Head of Zeus)