Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The winners of the 2008 Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards, in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre, have been announced. At a gala awards ceremony last night (10 November) in Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery, Mr Martin Naughton, Glen Dimplex Group Chairman, presented the awards to each of the five category winners.

Sally Nicholls has been named Glen Dimplex New Writer of the Year 2008 for her book Ways to Live Forever, published by Scholastic Children's Books.

Ways to Live Forever, first published in January 2008 to award-winning acclaim, is the stunning debut novel from Sally Nicholls, who wrote the story when she was twenty-three years old, an honest, moving tale of an eleven year-old boy dying of leukaemia.

My name is Sam.
I am eleven years old.
I collect stories and fantastic facts.
By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

Sam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer.

The awards are made to the best first book published in the last year in Ireland and the UK by an author within each of the following five categories: Fiction, Biography/Non-fiction, Poetry, Children’s Book and for the best first book published in any genre in the Irish language.

The winner of the Fiction category was Allan Bush for his book Last Bird Singing (Seren);
the Biography/Non-fiction Book category was won by Nia Wyn for Blue Sky July (Seren) ; #
the Poetry prize went to Will Stone for Glaciation (Salt Publishing);
the prize for best Irish-language book went to Simon Ó Faoláin for Anam Mhadra (Coiscéim).

With a total prize fund of €45,000, the Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards offer unprecedented support and exposure for emerging writers in a range of genres.

Each category winner received a cheque for €5,000, with a further €20,000 going to Sally Nicholls for winning the overall prize.

Chairman of the Judging panel, Gerard Smyth, described the book by saying,
“I hope it’s a tribute to this book, and to Sally Nicholls, to say that for me it stopped being a work of fiction after only a few chapters –Sam, and Felix, and their parents took on flesh – you just know that in real life they are out there, close by. This is not a book solely about dying and death. In fact it’s more about life, and its one that stops you in your tracks to make you think, with gratitude, about life. It’s a book that reveals a new author of great promise. And I dare to predict that in time this will become a children’s classic.”

The Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards are presented in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre and have been judged this year by the following all-Irish panel of writers: Claire Kilroy and Mike McCormack (Fiction), Peter Cunningham and Thomas McCarthy (Biography/Non-fiction), Dermot Bolger and June Considine (Children’s), Gerard Smyth and Matthew Sweeney (Poetry) and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (Irish-language).

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of Glen Dimplex Martin Naughton said: ‘We hope that these awards will continue to provide encouragement to, and a forum for, promising writers to further develop their skills at a critical time in their careers.’

The Chairman of the Irish Writers’ Centre Carlo Gébler said: ‘After the great success of our inaugural year (which included a Business2Arts Award), The Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards in association with the Irish writers’ Centre are already being seen as the pre-eminent awards for new writers in these islands.’

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