Mayo writer Mike McCormack is celebrating this week after an amazing double swoop in the world of literary awards. On Wednesday night he was named as the Irish Novel of the Year at the Bord Gais Irish Book of the Year Awards and last weekend, he won the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for Fiction — both for his third novel Solar Bones, triumphing over a shortlist which also included Irish writer Eimear McBride and Irish-Canadian writer Anakana Schofield.
Solar Bones, which was written in a single novel-length sentence, was published last May by Tramp Press. The story takes place on All Souls’ Day in Louisburgh, Co Mayo and is told largely through the recollections of Marcus Conway, a middle-aged engineer.
Mike’s previous work includes Getting it in the Head, Crowe’s Requiem, Notes from a Coma, which was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award, and Forensic Songs. In 1996 he was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and in 2007 he was awarded a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship.
Speaking about the Goldsmith ward Mike said: “It is a great honour to win this prize particularly as it honours innovation and inventiveness in the fictional form. It’s a stand along prize and the most radical one in the literary landscape at the moment. I am thrilled to follow a line of writers which include Ali Smith, Eimear McBride and Kevin Barry.”
Dr Cathal O’Donoghue, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies where Mike is a lecturer, said: “I would like to congratulate Mike on receiving the prestigious Goldsmith Prize, it is a wonderful achievement and great recognition for Mike and it’s a credit to all his hard work. This award reflects the excellence of teaching provided by our lecturers at NUI Galway and I would like to wish him continued success in his future projects.”
The Goldsmiths Prize was established in 2013 to celebrate the qualities of creative daring and to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form. The annual prize of £10,000 is awarded to a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterizes the genre at its best.