Irish writer wins $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize

Danielle McLaughlin: “I’m a new writer, but not a young writer, and so it’s fortunate for me that the Windham-Campbell awards recognise the work of writers of all ages!” Danielle McLaughlin has become the third Irish writer in four years to win one of the world’s most lucrative literary awards, the Windham-Campbell Prize, worth $165,000 (€146,000). The former solicitor from Co Cork, who only took up writing seriously 10 years ago at the age of 40 when illness forced her to stop practicing law, received the award at a ceremony in London’s Stationers Hall during London Book Week along with seven other winners including US author Rebecca Solnit. The judges’ citation read: “Danielle McLaughlin’s short stories capture the beauty and brutality of human relationships, imbuing them with near-magical qualities rooted in the details of everyday life in a manner both wry and resonant.” The prizes, administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, were established in 2013 with a gift from the late Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy M Campbell. Judged anonymously, the prize has no submission process, public longlist or shortlist, and so writers are unaware that they are in the running. The prizes are among the world’s richest – the Man Booker Prize is worth £50,000 and the International Dublin Literary Award €100,000. They recognise exceptional writers of fiction, nonfiction and drama who write in English. This year’s other recipients are: in fiction, David Chariandy (Canada); in nonfiction, Raghu Karnad (India); in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson (Jamaica) and Kwame Dawes (Ghana/Jamaica/United States); in drama, Young Jean Lee (United States) and Patricia Cornelius (Australia). Marina Carr won the award in 2017 and fellow Irish playwright Abbie Spallen won in 2016. McLaughlin’s debut short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets was published in 2015 by Stinging Fly Press and subsequently in Britain and the US. “This is not a debut in the usual sense: a promise of greater things to come,” Anne Enright said of Dinosaurs…. “There is no need to ask what Danielle McLaughlin will do next, she has done it already. This book has arrived. I think it will stay with us for a long time.” Last year, she edited the anthology Counterparts, a synergy of law and literature published by Stinging Fly in aid of housing charity Peter McVerry Trust. She is writer-in-residence at University College Cork and is working on more short stories and a novel. Together with Madeleine D’Arcy, she co-runs Fiction at the Friary, a free monthly fiction event in Cork. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, McLaughlin said: “I’m a new writer, but not a young writer, and so it’s fortunate for me that the Windham-Campbell awards recognise the work of writers of all ages! It’s never too late for anybody to start writing and human beings don’t stop having stories to tell, just because we’ve got older. “I was 50 in January, but didn’t want a party, and so my husband and kids […]

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