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Irish Author Anna Burns wins the 25th International DUBLIN Literary Award for Milkman

Dublin City Council announces Milkman by Anna Burns as the winner of the

2020 International DUBLIN Literary Award

Award-winning Irish novelist claims €100,000 prize

Irish author Anna Burns has won the 2020 International DUBLIN Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council, for her novel Milkman (published by Faber & Faber and Graywolf Press). With prize money of €100,000, the Award is the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English. Anna Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland and the fourth woman to claim the prestigious award in its 25-year history.

Uniquely, the Award receives its nominations from public libraries in cities around the globe and recognises both writers and translators. The winner was announced on the morning of Thursday the 22nd October at a special online event as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin which runs online until Oct 28th.  The announcement was delivered from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, 43 metres above ground level, as well as the Irish Embassy, London, where speakers and interviews had been filmed at an earlier date (before newly announced level 5 restrictions).  The award is usually presented by Owen Keegan, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council in the Mansion House each year, however due to the pandemic the Award organisers were unable to invite the winner to travel to Dublin from her home in England for the ceremony.  On this occasion, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom, Mr Adrian O’Neill, was delighted to present Irish author Anna Burns with her award.


Commenting on her win, Anna Burns said; ‘What an honour. I’m thrilled to bits and am about to break into my sevens with the excitement of it all!

This is an extraordinary honour – especially given the fantastic list I find myself on. I thank the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, and Dublin City Council for being the patron and the host of this generous award. Also I salute them for representing Dublin’s position at the cultural heart of world wide literature’

Anna went on to praise libraries and talk about how much they meant to her as a child in Belfast. She said: ‘ To go from being a wee girl haggling over library cards with my siblings, my friends, neighbours, my parents and my aunt, to be standing here today receiving this award is phenomenal for me, and I thank you all again for this great honour.’

Speaking at the winner announcement,  Lord Mayor and Patron of the Award, Hazel Chu, remarked:

‘What a wonderful book and massively talented writer! The judges should be very proud of their work as it wasn’t easy to choose a winner from among this very strong shortlist. I was so delighted to open that envelope and see Milkman written on the card! I wish to extend huge congratulations to Anna Burns.’

Anna Burns was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is the author of three novels, No Bones, Little Constructions and Milkman, and of the novella Mostly Hero. No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Milkman won the 2018 Man Booker Prize. She lives in East Sussex, England.

About Milkman: In an unnamed city, where to be interesting is dangerous, an eighteen-year-old woman has attracted the unwanted and unavoidable attention of a powerful and frightening older man, ‘Milkman’. In this community, where suggestions quickly become fact, where gossip and hearsay can lead to terrible consequences, what can she do to stop a rumour once it has started? Milkman is persistent, the word is spreading, and she is no longer in control.

Borrow the Book

Copies of the winning novel, the shortlisted books and the full list of novels longlisted for the 2020 award are available to borrow from Dublin’s public libraries and from public libraries around Ireland. Readers can also borrow the winning novel on BorrowBox: eBooks and eAudiobooks for limited periods by way of digital loans. Further details about the Award and the winning novel are available on the Award website at

The 2020 judging panel, which is led by Professor Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin, and includes Yannick Garcia, Shreela Ghosh, Niall MacMonagle, Cathy Rentzenbrink and Zoë Strachan commented:

‘Reading this book is an immersive experience. Once experienced, Anna Burns’ Milkman will never be forgotten. The reader becomes the world of the book. There was simply no other novel like it on the longlist. Many novels come and go but this tour-de-force is a remarkable achievement. We read it with huge admiration and gratitude. When we finished it, we felt enriched, informed, wiser.

A description of what this original book is about fails to do it justice. Its brilliance lies in its compelling, questioning voice, its strong individual, resilient narrator, its evocation of place, its threatening and sinister atmosphere, its description of what Burns calls lives of ‘nervous caution’.

Milkman soon emerged as a frontrunner and naming it our eventual winner was a unanimous decision.’

Milkman was nominated by public libraries in the UK, USA and Germany, as well as Limerick City & County Libraries.  The winning novel was chosen from a shortlist of 10 novels by writers from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland, the UK and the USA. Eight of this years shortlisted novels are by female authors.

The Award Ceremony is available to watch on our YouTube channel.



Senior Times Podcast Series

A new series of the Senior Times podcast has been launched. It includes interviews by Mary Kennedy with Patricia Scanlan, and Mike Murphy chatting to John Banville. Mike also chats to Kathleen Watkins about Yeats’ poetry. Upcoming interviews will include Christine Dwyer Hickey, Rachel English, Liz Nugent, Mary McAleese and Cathy Kelly.

You can listen on whatever platform you normally listen to podcasts such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Podcasts

Here’s a preview of what’s coming up over the next few months

International Dublin Literary Award Winner Event – 22nd October 11am


Join RTE broadcaster and book enthusiast Rick O’Shea from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse on Thursday 22nd October at 11am for the announcement of the 25th Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award.

The online Award ceremony takes places during this year’s International Literature Festival Dublin for the first time, as part of an exciting new partnership. 

Be sure to book your FREE ticket here.


Booking is required.

The International Dublin Literary Award, now in its twenty-fifth year, is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, with the winner receiving €100,000. It is open to novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality, provided the book has been published in English or English translation. Uniquely, books are nominated by libraries in major cities throughout the world. It is sponsored solely by Dublin City Council.

Click below for full details of the 10 shortlisted books

Verzet: New Dutch Writing Chapbooks Launch – Tuesday 22 September Online 7pm

National Centre for Writing In partnership with Strangers Press and New Dutch Writing

Join them for the launch of VERZET, a collection of beautifully designed chapbooks published by Strangers Press, showcasing the translated work of eight of the most exciting young writers working in the Netherlands today. The chapbooks encompass an impressive array of award winners and nominees including Jamal Ouarichi, Karin Amatmoekrim, and Sanneke van Hassel, as well as newer voices all long overdue or dearly deserving of English language translations.

For this event, writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn will be in conversation with VERZET contributing writers Karin Amatmoekrim and Thomas Heerma van Voss, and translators Alice Tetley-Paul and Jozef van der Voort.

‘VERZET is the fine, cutting edge of Dutch writing; a symphony of diverse voices singing lyrical and often startling melodies of truth, inner turmoil, hope and longing’ – Shannon Clinton-Copeland

This event will take place on YouTube. Please book in advance to receive a streaming link by email.

Strangers Press has previously published two highly successful collections of chapbooks – KESHIKI, new voices from Japan, and YEOYU, new voices from Korea.

The VERZET set can be pre-ordered from the Strangers Press website here.

Read: ‘VERZET: Speaking Through the Noise’ by Shannon Clinton-Copeland

Covers in development, subject to change


About the speakers

Karin Amatmoekrim is a Surinamese-Dutch writer and the author of six novels, as well as essays and short stories. Her work explores cosmopolitanism and notions of home and identity. The author, who has Indonesian, Chinese, African and Native American blood, sees her work as embodying universal, human themes. Her chapbook, Reconstruction, translated into English by Sarah Timmer-Harvey, ranges from the speculative to the radical in five short stories, offering a haunting take on our multicultural world.

Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator, with some seventy books to his name. His translations (from Portuguese, Spanish and French) include fiction from Europe, Africa and the Americas, and non-fiction by writers ranging from Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago to Brazilian footballer Pelé.

Thomas Heerma van Voss has published four works of fiction, including the novel Stern in 2013, and the short story collection The Third Person in 2014.  His chapbook, Thank You For Being With Us, comprises two short stories feature compelling, well-wrought characters who draw the reader entertainingly into their simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking lives. The stories are translated by Moshe Gilula.

Alice Tetley-Paul studied German and Dutch at the University of Sheffield, followed by an MA in Literary Translation at UEA. She is currently the translator in residence for New Dutch Writing. For the Verzet series she has translated the work of Bregje Hofstede, who was writer in residence at the National Centre for Writing in October 2019. Bergje is a moving and memorable autobiographical account of a young woman’s voyage of rediscovery into the mountains she visited so often as a child.

Jozef van der Voort is a translator working from Dutch, German and French into English. He has an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Sheffield and he runs the Emerging Translators Network. He has translated Something Has To Happen by Maartje Wortel, three short stories that are both alienating and logical, idiosyncratic and playful, written in enjoyably spare and minimalist prose.

Writer images, clockwise from top left: Thomas Heerma van Voss (c) Willemieke Kars, Karin Amatmoekrim (c) Bob Bronshoff, Josef van de Voort, Alice Tetley-Paul



You Will Remain – Cities of Literature Creative Response to Covid-19

Slemani City of Literature in Iraq have curated You Will Remain – the UNESCO Cities of Literature creative response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The anthology includes poems, prose and paintings from 23 Cities of Literature. Dublin is represented by Brian Kirk’s poem “Sleep” (from his collection After The Fall published by Salmon Poetry)  The initiative is part of a broader project called ‘Literature and Arts as Helpmate and Therapist.’ 

Download the anthology  You Will Remain



Ireland’s writers are an asset to reputation-building abroad says the man who’s in pole position to know – Daniel Mulhall, our Ambassador to Washington, who talks to City of Books about how by a host of world class authors act as a cultural bridge.

From Joyce to Heaney, as well as a crop of well-regarded current writers such as Sally Rooney, he finds their work is a calling card. During an Indian posting, he discovered his hosts – the Gandhis – could recite Yeats’ poetry word for word.

Ambassador Mulhall has won a following for his daily tweets showcasing Irish or Irish-American poets. Wherever he goes in the US an interest in Irish culture is evident, he tells the City of Books podcast, hosted by novelist and journalist Martina Devlin.

Elsewhere in the episode, Professor Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin gives a rundown of the 10 books shortlisted for the prestigious Dublin International Literary Award worth €100,000.

The selection is eclectic and includes books in translation, plus one Irish writer this year – Anna Burns for Milkman. Libraries worldwide nominate books popular with their readers, which means the prize allows lesser-known books to rise to the top, according to Professor Morash. He is non-voting chair of the judging panel, which made its choice from more than 150 books.

Other contenders are Silence of the Girls by UK writer Pat Barker, There There by Tommy Orange, a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, and Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead by Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk.

The winner will be announced on October 22 as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFD).


Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you usually get your podcasts


Are you aged 16-26 in Northern Ireland, or 18-26 in the Republic of Ireland, and identify as LGBTQ+? Do you enjoy writing stories or poetry, or want to be better at it? Are you into drawing, and want to learn illustration skills? Would you like to have your stories published?

POP UP are looking for LGBTQ+ young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland to take part in an amazing publishing project. Illustrator Jamie Beard and writer James Hudson will lead six online workshops, where you’ll develop your own writing and illustration. Jamie and James will then weave everyone’s work into a single story or collection of stories – which POP UP will publish as an e-book. The e-book will be sent to schools and libraries so that other young people can read stories that include LGBTQ+ experiences.

When does it happen?

The six workshops will take place over three weeks, between 14th and 30th September. Each week there will be one weekday workshop (4.30pm-7pm) and one weekend workshop. The e-book will be designed and published in October. The book will be launched at a celebration in November.

How do I get involved?
Be quick, because they’ll offer places for the first 20 people who apply. They need to know your name, age, the town and country where
you live. They’ll get back in touch as soon as we hear from you. You’ll need to have access to a computer, tablet or smartphone to join the
online workshops.

If you’re interested,


Who are Pop Up?
They work with 100s of children’s authors, running exciting children’s literature and publishing projects with young people across the UK and internationally. They know that children’s books rarely include LGBTQ+ characters. So we want to put young LGBTQ+ voices at the heart of children’s stories – by developing our own literature. That’s why they’re running The Rainbow Library.

Dublin City Council announces The International DUBLIN Literary Award 2020 Shortlist

One Irish author, 3 novels in translation among the shortlist

Thursday 3rd September 2020: 10 novels have been shortlisted for the 2020 International DUBLIN Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council. Celebrating 25 years, this award is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, worth €100,000 to the winner. If the book has been translated the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

The shortlist announced today includes Milkman by Irish author Anna Burns, and 3 novels in translation. The writers, 8 of whom are female, come from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland, the UK and the USA.

The winner of the International Dublin Literary Award 2020 will be announced by its Patron, Lord Mayor Hazel Chu on Thursday 22nd October, as part of International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFDublin).

The shortlisted titles are:

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (British). Published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd.
  • Milkman by Anna Burns (Irish). Published by Faber & Faber and Graywolf Press.
  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi  (Iranian-French). Translated from the French by Tina Kover. Published by Europa Editions.
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Canadian). Published by Serpents Tail Ltd., HarperCollins Canada and Alfred A. Knopf.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (American). Published by Algonquin Books.
  • History of Violence by Édouard Louis (French). Translated from the French by Lorin Stein. Published by Harvill Secker.
  • The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (American). Published by Virago Press Ltd.
  • There There by Tommy Orange (Native American). Published by Harvill Secker, Alfred A. Knopf and McClelland & Stewart Inc.
  • All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy (Indian). Published by MacLehose Press and Atria Books.
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Polish). Translated by from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, commended the Award for its promotion of excellence in world literature and the opportunity it provides to promote Irish writing internationally;

‘Looking at this fantastic list of books makes me so excited about our Literary Award this year. It’s more important than ever that Dublin City Council does its best to support the Arts in such challenging times and the International Dublin Literary Award is a huge statement of encouragement for writers.

In October, we’ll find out which of these talented authors will receive €100,000 from the city but in the meantime I urge everyone to read as many of the ten as you can. Borrow them from your local library countrywide.  And the very best of luck to them all!’ – Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu.

The novels on this year’s shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the USA, and come from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland the UK and the USA. Memorable characters tell stories of identity and displacement, violence and war, hope and humanity, love and loss, family and relationships, incarceration and racism, justice and tradition set in both familiar and unfamiliar countries and cultures.

Borrow the Books

All the novels nominated for the Award are available for readers to borrow from Dublin’s public libraries and from public libraries around Ireland. Readers can also borrow most of the shortlisted titles on BorrowBox – eBooks and eAudiobooks for limited periods by way of digital loans. The longlist of 156 titles has been published in a free magazine, and all details are also on the newly revamped Award website at

Key Dates

The six member international judging panel, chaired by Prof. Chris Morash, will select one winner, which will be announced by the Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu on Thursday 22nd October during the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFDublin) reimagined 2020 festival.

 For more information on the International Dublin Literary Award and the Shortlist go to

Christine Dwyer Hickey in Conversation at Dublin Book Festival

A Dublin One City One Book and Dublin Book Festival Event

Join us for a special evening with Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of this year’s Dublin One City One Book choice Tatty on Thursday 24th September at 7pm. Christine will be in conversation with literary critic Niall MacMonagle in the beautiful setting of Kevin Street Library, Dublin. She will discuss Tatty, her varied writing career, and in particular how music influences her writing.

Musical interludes will be contributed by pianist Leonora Carney, trumpeter Colm Byrne and piper Donnacha Dwyer.


Tatty was originally published in 2004 and earlier this year a special Dublin One City One Book edition, with a new introduction by Dermot Bolger, was published by New Island Books. Christine recently won the 2020 Dalkey Literary Award and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for her most recent novel The Narrow Land.
This event will be available to watch online via and

Please note that you will need to register in advance to watch the event.

New Episode – City of Books Podcast with Lemn Sissay


He shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart – that’s poet and playwright Lemn Sissay.

In this candid interview for the City of Books podcast for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, he speaks about mother and baby homes, the Black Lives Matter campaign and his experience in the British care system.  

“My name was changed, I was treated as property,” Lemn tells City of Books presenter Martina Devlin.

He was born in a mother and baby home in England, where an Irishwoman was having her child in the bed next to his Ethiopian mother.

He was fostered out for the first 12 years before being handed back and raised in a variety of care homes, as he describes in his powerful memoir, My Name Is Why. But he started writing poetry as a child to assert his sense of identity.

Lemn says society is self-righteous and judgmental.

“It’s really easy for us to blame the social workers and blame the nuns – it’s us. Those institutions wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t had the prejudices. They’re the ones doing the hard work.

“It’s us talking about single pregnant women as if they were evil. As if they were oestrogen terrorists. This prejudice is too easy.” He said it allows us to “patronise the past” and heap blame on others.

As for the children, many have been damaged by their experiences. “We’re more happy to complain about an egg being broken that a child being broken,” he says.

On Black Lives Matter, the poet and Chancellor of Manchester University calls it’s a reckoning: “chickens coming home to roost.”

Recently, Lemn was a Booker Prize judge and says of the 2020 longlist: “I’m pleased we have so many debuts, I’m pleased that there are so many women, I’m pleased there are so many different voices.”

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay is published by Canongate.

:: City of Books is a monthly podcast brought to you by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Libraries in association with MOLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland. It is presented and edited by Martina Devlin.

Photograph by Slater King