Writer Sebastian Barry has been announced as the recipient of this year's Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the An Post Irish Book Awards - the honour will be bestowed at a virtual awards ceremony on Tuesday 23rd November, to be broadcast live from 6 pm here on RTÉ Culture.

Novelist, playwright and poet Barry has been twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, for his novels A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008), the latter of which won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His 2011 novel, On Canaan's Side, was longlisted for the Booker.

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Listen: Sebastian Barry talks the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award with RTÉ Arena

In January 2017, Barry was awarded the Costa Book of the Year prize for Days Without End, becoming the first novelist to win the prestigious prize twice. Other novels include Mackers Garden (1982), The Engine of Owl-Light (1987), The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), Annie Dunne (2002), The Temporary Gentleman (2014) and, most recently, the acclaimed A Thousand Moons (2020).

Since 2018, Barry has occupied the role of The Laureate for Irish Fiction. Of his position, he has said, "We live in a golden age of prose writing in Ireland. And I am really happy to be the ambassador of this rather stupendous reality for a few years."

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Watch: Shelf Analysis - Sebastian Barry talks to Rick O'Shea

In conferring the award, the Board of the Irish Book Awards stated: "Sebastian Barry has occupied a central position in the cultural life of Ireland for over three decades as a poet, playwright and novelist. In a literary career that has delivered fifteen plays, ten novels, and three poetry collections, Barry has been in the van of Ireland's contemporary literary renaissance most notably in the way he has courageously drawn on family history, personal experiences and memories to illuminate neglected aspects of Irish culture frequently glossed over in the official histories."

Barry will join a host of other distinguished recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, including Colm Tóibín, Thomas Kinsella, John McGahern, John Montague, J.P. Donleavy, Paul Durcan, John Banville, Seamus Heaney, Maeve Binchy, Edna O’Brien, Jennifer Johnston, William Trevor and Eavan Boland.

Sebastian Barry says: "Thank you so much for this beautiful award. For forty years I have been the grateful citizen of a properly mysterious village called the Irish book trade. You are all wonderful, dedicated, unusual people. I salute your alchemy and your startling powers."

"An award like this makes a writer feel that their efforts over the many years have been worth the candle.. those boxes, and boxes of candles burnt at both ends. That’s a joyous feeling. The best feeling!"

The An Post Irish Book Awards are dedicated to honouring Irish writers across the entire publishing spectrum. This year’s shortlist features a diverse mix of writing from new and established writers across 20 categories - find out more about this year's shortlist here.

Watch the virtual Irish Book Awards ceremony live on RTÉ Culture from 6 pm on Tuesday, November 23rd.