Congratulations to Michael Magee on winning the 2023 Rooney Prize for Irish Fiction for his debut novel Close to Home.
An unflinching look at modern masculinity, set in the author’s native Belfast, Close to Home follows the experiences of protagonist Sean who returns to the city after university, and ends up sentenced to community service after a violent incident at a party, forcing him to reflect on his life, community and the changes he wants to make for his future. Dealing with themes such as addiction, poverty, violence and trauma and the universal experience of finding out what sort of person you want to be, set against a working class background, Close to Home won the praise of the Rooney Prize jury for its “deep understanding of the craft of writing, its sensitivity to the power of place and its profound compassion for the survivors of personal and historical trauma”.
Prize jury member Prof Michael Cronin, Trinity College Dublin, noted: “His complex, fully realised west Belfast characters do much to counter years of negative stereotyping that reduced people in the area to the one-dimensional cyphers of tribal anger.”
On being awarded the prestigious prize of €10,000, Magee, 33, said: “I’m staggered, really. This was totally unexpected, but hugely affirming. I’m grateful to the judging committee for their attention and consideration, and to Peter Rooney and the Rooney family for their generosity. Seeing my name alongside that prestigious list of previous winners, people whose work I greatly admire, is a great honour.”
Former winners, since the prize was inaugurated in 1976, include some other authors also appearing at Dingle Lit this year – Kevin Power (2009), Kevin Barry (2007), Claire Kilroy (2004), Mike McCormack (1996), Anne Enright (1991) and Neil Jordan (1981).
Michael Magee will be appearing at Dingle Lit on Saturday 18th November at 1.30pm in An Díseart. Book your seat here.