Irish Book of the Decade announced
Published 01/06/2010 | 00:01
A children's writer turned one of the newest literary prizes on its head and beat some of the world's best sellers to win the Irish Book of the Decade title.
Comic fantasy writer Derek Landy topped the online poll for the nation's favourite book with his children's novel Skulduggery Pleasant by pulling in thousands of votes in the last month.
"Astonishingly enough, I am not taking this opportunity to gloat, because apparently that isn't very classy," he said.
"The wonderful thing about this award is that it was open to every category, and so books for younger readers were as relevant as adult literary novels."
Landy triumphed over literary heavyweights such as Colm Tobin, Anne Enwright, Enda O'Brien, John McGahern and chick-lit author Cecelia Ahern to win.
Skulduggery Pleasant was in the top 10 for the prize going in to the final fortnight of voting, despite failing to attract the attention of many critics. It was up against John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Ross O'Carroll-Kelly's Should Have Got off at Sydney Parade, Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea, and would-be entrepreneur's guidebook Bill Cullen's It's a Long way from Penny Apples.
Skulduggery Pleasant tells the story of Stephanie, a feisty 12-year-old girl, and a wise-cracking magician-turned-detective who is dead.
Landy said: "Children's book sales account for 25% of all books sold in Ireland, but you don't get to see this kind of equal footing too often. It shows a real respect for our next generation of readers and it's because of these readers that I can accept this award with sincerest gratitude and without apology. I do think a little gloating would have made this statement a whole lot funnier, by the way."
Almost two-thirds of the 50-book shortlist were the works of internationally respected writers. The online poll saw Landy's book attract about 5,000 votes in the last month.
Tom Owens, chairman of the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards, said Landy was a worthy winner. He said: "Not only was Skulduggery Pleasant a huge international success but together with the other three published books in the series, it mobilised many young people not only to start reading but to get passionate about reading."