UCD student Kevin Power has won the prestigious Rooney Award for Irish Literature, for his novel Bad Day in Blackrock. Power, who is currently researching a PhD in Modern American Literature, has called the award “the best form of recognition”, and said that the victory was “a great feeling and really validates what I’m trying to do.”
Bad Day in Blackrock tells the story of a young man from Blackrock who is killed outside a nightclub, and is thought to have been inspired by the real-life death of Brian Murphy outside Club Anabel at the Burlington Hotel in August 2000. The novel explores the darker side of the life of south Dublin and the young people who inhabit it.
The Rooney Award for Irish Literature is conferred by the Oscar Wilde School for Irish Writing in Trinity College Dublin, and was founded by current US Ambassador to Ireland and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dr Dan Rooney. Previous winners include Booker Prize winner Anne Enright and Neil Jordan. The award is given to Irish writers under forty who show promise in literature. The prize is worth €10,000, and was awarded at a ceremony on Wednesday 7th October.
Judges for the prize included writer Dr Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and novelist and dramatist Carlo Gébler. Mr Gébler said that Power’s work encompasses “a world like ours yet entirely the author’s own through which we gain an improved understanding of our own.” Power cited Professor Frank McGuinness, a UCD lecturer and former winner of the award, as a mentor in the writing of his novel; while Prof. McGuinness was unable to attend the reception, Power said that his mentor “was very happy” with his award.
Power has previously won the Hennessy XO Emerging Fiction Award in April 2009 for his short story American Girl, which was published in January 2008.
Power has meanwhile begun work on a second novel, which he says is “slightly different” from the theme of Bad Day in Blackrock.