Sally Rooney’s Normal People (Faber) has won the £10,000 Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award for a second novel.
The multi-award winning Irish author’s book about first love between two students in Ireland was described by judge Edmund Gordon as “an instant classic” and “a gripping and exquisitely intimate novel”. Fellow panellist Eley Williams said it represented “a precocious talent that scrutinises precociousness as a theme” which showed “an examination of the terror(s) of romance stripped of Schmaltz or rose-tint” while co-judge Nikita Lalwani called it "a fearless, indelible excavation of the politics of desire".
The £10,000 prize, coordinated by the Royal Society of Literature, was announced at a ceremony at the ICA in central London last night (Thursday 13th June). The win bolsters 28-year-old Rooney's already substantial hoard of awards, including the Book of the Year award and the Costa Award. Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year as well as the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Rathbones Folio Prize in 2019. Her first book Conversations with Friends (Faber) was similarly acclaimed, after being snapped up in a seven-way auction in 2016.
Rooney’s book triumphed over Faber stablemate Perfidious Albion by Sam Byers and Gamble (Salt Publishing) by Kerry Hadley-Pryce on in six-strong shortlist dominated by indie publishers. Fellow nominees included Anthony Joseph for Kitch (Peepal Tree Press), Daniel Shand for Crocodile (Sandstone Press) with Sam Thompson’s Jott (JM Originals) the sole contender from a corporate publishing house.
The Encore Award was first presented in 1990 to celebrate the achievement of outstanding second novels.