Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Sebastian Barry won the £30,000 prize for his novel Days Without End, making him the first novelist to win the prize for a second time. He previously won the Costa book of the year, regarded as one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, for his novel The Secret Scripture in 2008.
After being named the winner at a central London ceremony, Barry thanked the judges, saying: “You have made me crazy happy from the top of my head to my toes in a way that is a little bit improper at 61.”
Days Without End, praised in the Guardian as “a work of staggering openness; its startlingly beautiful sentences … so capacious that they are hard to leave behind, its narrative so propulsive that you must move on”, follows the life of Thomas McNulty, a migrant in the 1850s who flees the Irish famine.
Leaving a country behind that is “starved in her stocking feet. And she had no stockings”, McNulty reaches America and embarks on a soldier’s life, first fighting Native Americans and then against armies in the civil war. Barry, who has said he was inspired to write a book containing a gay love story after his son came out, also focuses on McNulty’s romance with fellow soldier John Cole, and their adopted Native American daughter, Winona.
Speaking after receiving the award at a ceremony in London, Barry said he had just spoken to his son Toby on Skype. “That was an award in itself,” he said. “I couldn’t hear anything, technology can’t overcome the great literary buzz.”
Having previously said his children refused to read his books, Barry said that Toby had now read Days Without End, which is dedicated to him. “He said to me, ‘You’re not gay, dad, but you’re an ally. And I like your book.’”
Ain't read it - probably never will.
Ain't been to a Costa neither.