Fintan O'Toole's We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 has won the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2021 award.
According to The Irish Times, the chair of the judging panel, Maria Dickenson of Dubray Books said it is a book that "will remain important for a very long time", adding: "Truely, this is a book for the ages."
"Fintan O'Toole understands Ireland in a visceral way - its isn't just politics but culture and popular culture. He gets all of Ireland and its turbulent history during his lifetime," Ms Dickenson said.
— An Post Irish Book Awards (@AnPostIBAS) December 8, 2021
Another member of the panel, An Post chief executive David McRedmond described O'Toole's work as astonishing, fresh and passionate, stating it was "the most remarkable Irish non-fiction book I've read in the last 10 years".
A columnist with The Irish Times for over 30 years, O'Toole said the book is the most personal work he has ever written, drawing on his family history and childhood experiences. "It feels a bit more exposed than usual, and the relief that most people seem to like it is all the greater for that," he said.
O'Toole saw off some stiff competition, with Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You, Séamas O'Reilly's Did Ye Hear Mammy Died, Aisling and the City by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, Maureen Gaffney's Your One Wild and Precious Life, and David King's A Hug for You making up the shortlist.
The winner was chosen through a mixture of an online public vote and a judging panel, which this year also included the Sunday Independent's literary editor, Madeleine Keane, senior librarian Marian T Keyes, and literary agent Simon Trewin.
The winners by category were:
- Eason Novel of the Year: Beautiful World, Where Are You - Sally Rooney
- Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year: 56 Days - Catherine Ryan Howard
- Eason Sport Book of the Year: Fight Or Flight: My Life, My Choices - Keith Earls with Tommy Conlon
- Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year: Snowflake - Louise Nealon
- Odgers Berndtson Non-fiction Book of the Year: We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 - Fintan O'Toole
- Dubray Biography of the Year: Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? - Séamas O'Reilly
- Bookselling Ireland Cookbook of the Year: Everyday Cook - Donal Skehan
- National Book Tokens Popular Fiction Book of the Year - Aisling and the City - Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
- Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year: Decór Galore - Laura De Barra
- TheJournal.ie Best Irish Published Book of the Year: The Coastal Atlas of Ireland - Val Cummins, Robert Devoy, Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett and Sarah Kandrot
- Specsavers Children's Book of the Year (Junior): A Hug for You - David King, illustrated by Rhiannon Archard
- Specsavers Children's Book of the Year (Senior): The Summer I Robbed a Bank - David O'Doherty, illustrated by Chris Judge
- Teen and Young Adults Book of the Year: The New Girl - Sinead Moriarty
- RTÉ Audience Choice Award: Your One Wild And Precious Life - Maureen Gaffney
- Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year: Marian Keyes
- Writing.ie Short Story of the Year: Little Lives - Deirdre Sullivan
- Listowel Writers' Week Irish Poem of the Year: Longboat at Portaferry - Siobhan Campbell
- The Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year: Madame Lazare - Tadgh Mac Dhonnagain
- The An Post Bookshop of the Year: Kenny's Bookshop and Art Gallery, Galway