Se­bas­tian Barry wins Costa award for ‘Se­cret Scrip­ture’

BOOK OF YEAR WICK­LOW-BASED AU­THOR SCOOPS PRES­TI­GIOUS LIT­ER­ARY PRIZE

Bray People - - Kilmacanogue Diary - Myles BUCHANAN

SE­BAS­TIAN Barry was named the win­ner of the pres­ti­gious Costa Book of the Year award for ‘The Se­cret Scrip­ture.’

The 53 year old, who lives with his fam­ily in a re­stored rec­tory in the coun­try­side of South Wick­low, picks up the main prize of €25,000 hav­ing just failed last year to land the Booker Prize for the same novel.

His Costa win proved to be a tightly con­tested af­fair as the nine strong judg­ing panel de­cided be­tween ‘The Se­cret Scrip­ture’ and ‘The Bro­ken Word’ by Adam Foulds.

The chair of the judges Matthew Par­ris said there was very lit­tle to cho­sen be­tween the two writ­ers, with an­other three also short-listed for con­tention.

‘It was an ex­traor­di­nar­ily close fin­ish among the judges. There was huge sup­port for both. The feel­ing with the judges is that there was a lot wrong with ‘The Se­cret Scrip­ture’. It was flawed in many ways and al­most no one liked the end­ing. But there was a feel­ing among the judges that many great works of lit­er­acy are also flawed.’

‘The Se­cret Scrip­ture’ tells the story of an el­derly woman named Roseanne McNulty who faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture as she nears her 100th birth­day. She has been con­fined to Roscom­mon Re­gional Men­tal Hospi­tal for more than four decades but now the hospi­tal is set to be de­mol­ished.

She re­mains in reg­u­lar con­tact with her psy­chi­a­trist, Dr. Greene. Both he and Roseanne keep jour­nals un­be­knownst to one an­other, and through th­ese jour­nals the reader is given a real in­sight into one woman’s fate­ful de­scent into so-called mad­ness and the un­likely se­crets she re­tains.

While he cur­rently re­sides in Wick­low with his wife and three chil­dren, Mr. Barry was born in Dublin to par­ents Frank, an ar­chi­tect, and Joan O’Hara, the late ac­tress of ‘Fair City’ fame.

Au­thor Se­bas­tian Barry.

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