Victoria Kennefick on Costa Award shortlist; Joanne McNally deal; Moth Arts Prize winner

At The Irish Times this Saturday, Niamh Donnelly picks the perfect books to give as Christmas gifts across different tastes and genres. Comments are by Colm Toibin on Huggie by Gary Murphy; Oliver Fary for “British Black Lives Matter,” Editing by Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder; Michael O’Loughlin for Intimate City: Dublin Essays by Peter Sear; Richard Payne on Politics and the Debate over Culture in Ireland 1800-2010 by Pat Cook; Aoife Bhreatnach on Katharine Harvey’s Fires of Lust: Sex in the Middle Ages; Martina Evans on New and Selected Poems by Ian Duhigg; Sarah Gilmartin These Precious Days by Anne Patchett; and Claire Hennessy for Best New YA Novel.


Victoria Kennevik was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize for Eat It or We’re Both Hungry, along with all names given by Raymond Antropos; Blood Condition by Kaiyo Chingoni. The Children by Hannah Lowe. Judges Rishi Dastedar, Ian Duhigg and Maya Jaggi called the shortlist “Electric and Contemporary Shortlists – These are the poets of the present and the future.”

Eat or We Two Starve draws readers into seemingly recognizable groups—the family home, the communal meal, the rituals of historical occasions, and desire—but Kennefick molds this material into new forms, making it viable once again to explore what it is to live with the past— And don’t consume it.

The judges said, “Horrific and funny, this book explores all aspects of the body in deep and lively language.”

Kennevick is a Co Cork poet, writer, and educator now based in Co Kerry. Her award-winning poetry has been widely published and broadcast on the radio. She received the Arts Council Ireland Next Generation Artist award, co-hosted the Unlaunched Books Podcast in 2020 and is a member of the Committee on Listowel Writers’ Week, Ireland’s longest-running literary festival.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson, The Manningtree Witches by AK Blakemore, Fault Lines by Emily Itami and The Stranding by Kate Sawyer were shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

Unstable Land by Claire Fuller, The High House by Jessie Greengrass, The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed, and The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak are shortlisted for a Costa Novel Award. Costa Biography Award Shortlisted Features: A Sister’s Story by Areva Akbar; The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest by Ed Cesar; Fall: A Robert Maxwell Mystery by John Preston; And it’s free: Coming of age at the end of history by Lia Yebi.

The Costa Children’s Prize shortlist consists of Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall; Manjit Man Crossing; The Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery; And The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Ratter.

The winners in the five categories, each receiving £5,000, will be announced on January 4. The overall winner of Costa’s book of 2021 will receive £30,000 and will be announced at a gala on February 1.


Martina O’Sullivan, publisher at Penguin General, has preempted a set of articles by stand-up comedian Joanne McNally. McNally is the co-host with Vogue Williams for the podcast My Therapist Ghosted Me, which is downloaded 2 million each month, and her upcoming tour The Prosecco Express has sold more than 70,000 tickets so far with 30 Nights on Vicar Street in Dublin and three of them sold out – outside the stadium London Palladium.

O’Sullivan acquired the rights to the world from Faith O’Grady at Lisa Richards Agency. Published in the fall of 2023, the as yet untitled book will bring together personal memoirs with cultural and social observations that examine why we do the things we do. McNally will explore topics including sex, dating, heartbreak, friendship, body image, aging, and more.

McNally said, “I’ve always wanted to write a book and couldn’t be happier that I would with Penguin! I got started in life wanting to be a journalist but was told I would need to be ready to sell my grandmother for a story, and given the death of all My grandmothers, I didn’t feel like I had the resources to make this dream come true, so having the opportunity to write without having to deal with seniors is very exciting!”

The new issue of Reading Ireland is a mixture of critical essays, memoirs and poems dedicated to four writers whose work deserves further attention: Padric Viak, Richard Murphy, Michael Hartnett and Dermot Healy. Contributors include Gerald Dawe, Benjamin Keating, Philip Keel Gibber, Mary O’Malley, Dermot Bolger, Nicola Bruce, Gerard Smith, Harry Clifton and Brian McCabe. In addition, Alana Hopkin’s memoirs about Aidan Higgins, a very strange man, were reviewed by Fred Johnston. Eamonn Wall Reviews Making Integration: Critical Essays on Richard Murphy; Graham Price’s Notes Sacred Weather: Atmospheric Fundamentals in the World of John McGahern, by Niamh Campbell; and Adrienne Leavy reviewing Conor O’ Callaghan’s novel We’re Not in the World and Brendan Galvin’s new poetry collection, Partway to Geophany. To subscribe to Reading Ireland visit

A new literary festival is set to take place in Spike Island Cork in 2022, dedicated to the theme of crime writing. The Spike Island Literary Festival, planned for the second half of 2022, will focus on the popular genre through a series of author talks and workshops, giving attendees an opportunity to learn more about the topic. Agents and publishers from the industry will be on hand to advise, and those looking to write a book can gain invaluable insights into the world of writing and publishing.

The event is set to take place on Spike Island, which is a perfect venue given its historical past. The island has been used as an island prison on 4 separate occasions over the past 400 years, with the last incarnation of the prison only opening in 1985 in 2004. In addition to the opportunity to attend author-led talks and workshops, attendees will have a very private tour of the former prisons for the island, which will detail the stories of ex-prisoners. So may those in attendance leave with inspiration for a story of their own! Ticket details and events are scheduled to be released in early 2022.

Spanish artist Blanca Amoros has been awarded the Moth Art Prize 2021, a €1,000 prize administered by The Moth magazine for a range of figurative or acting work.

“I consider the artists who have won the Moth Art Prize so far to be exceptional painters,” says Amoros, who was born in Elche, Spain in 1990 and now lives in Vienna. “It’s a real honor to be a part of this group and I’m really grateful.”

Amoros has studied art in Munich, Vienna and Valencia, where she was awarded the Facultad de Bellas Artes in 2013. She graduated from the Beldenden Kunst Academy in Munich in 2018.

She has exhibited in Belgium, Spain, Germany, Austria, South Africa and Taiwan. In 2015 she won the Nazarte Prize in Valencia, and in 2019 she won the Special Fischer/Collegen Kunstpreis Prize in Stuttgart.

Amoros comically puts all kinds of material in her paintings – old photos and other archival materials – to create her own new narratives. “Overall, it is a process of re-contextualization that reveals the opposite side of the images and things that surround us: the ideological domination of our private lives that is intrinsic to capitalism.”

“The Moth Art Award is a joy to judge,” says Will Govan, publisher of The Moth, who is himself an illustrator and judges the award along with co-director and magazine editor, Rebecca O’Connor. The award was truly international this year. It is wonderful that the language of figurative and representational art can be universally understood and recognized. We felt so privileged to meet so many wonderful painters for the first time. There was some attractive work, but overall, Blanca’s work had a cohesive and magnetic quality. Pretty sure. It has an exotic and hypnotic quality, while also being smart and elegant in a way that is hard to ignore.

Features of Amoros’ work are on the cover and throughout the winter issue of The Moth, available for purchase at and in select bookstores in Ireland and the UK.

The Moth publishers also praised the work of Christy Burdock, who was nominated for the Sir John Hurt Arts Award last year; Komachi Goto, Japanese artist based in Edinburgh; Sally Roberts, emerging artist based in Lancashire; Tess Glenn, Scottish artist whose work intertwines with physical and mental interiors; Sophie Herksheimer, whose work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern and along the waterfront in Margate; And Azma Sultan, a Slade graduate who was born in Pakistan and lives and works in London.

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