Edna O'Brien's short story collection Saints and Sinners has won the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. The award was presented at a ceremony in the Metropole Hotel, Cork on Sunday September 18th
The final decision was made after much deliberation by the judges Thomas McCarthy (Cork-based poet), Alannah Hopkin (Cork-based writer) and Guardian journalist Chris Power (UK). The shortlist had a majority of women including Irish grandee Edna O’Brien and inaugural winner (2005) of the award Yiyun Li for her second collection.
There were two young debutantes, Canadian Alexander MacLeod and American Suzanne Rivecca. American novelist Valerie Trueblood is shortlisted with her first short story collection and the shortlist is completed by the Irish literary heavyweight Colm Tóibín.
It was the first year two Irish authors had been shortlisted for this, the world’s largest and most prestigious award for the Short Story. Established in 2005 the €35,000 award is in the gift of the Munster Literature Centre and funded by Cork City Council. It was awarded for what was judged to be the best original short story collection published in English between July 1st 2010 and June 30th 2011. Previous winners have included Haruki Murakami, Jhumpa Lahiri and Simon Van Booy.
O’Brien received a standing ovation as she accepted the award. “This is lovely, wonderful,” she said. “When Maureen Stapleton won an Academy Award, she said she’d like to thank everyone she’d ever met. I should probably limit that to Munster… I’d like to thank this wonderful festival for doing so much to stimulate the dying flower called literature.”