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An Post Irish Book of the Year 2021

‘We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland since 1958’ by Fintan O’Toole 

We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland since 1958’ by Fintan O’Toole has been announced as the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2021’. 

The six book titles that competed for the accolade were category winners from the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards, and the overall winner was revealed as part of a one-hour special television show aired on RTÉ One, hosted by Oliver Callan. O’Toole’s book won the ‘Odgers Berndtson Non-Fiction Book of the Year’ at the recent An Post Irish Book Awards.

Polemicist, literary editor, journalist and drama critic for The Irish Times since 1988, O’Toole has been described as Ireland’s leading public intellectual and has been recognised as such with a string of prestigious awards to his credit, including The Orwell Prize for Journalism and the European Press Prize in 2017 and on three occasions, the NewsBrands Ireland Journalism Awards Broadsheet Columnist of the Year. 

Born in Crumlin and educated at Coláiste Chaoimhín and University College Dublin, he now lives in America where he is a visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University. In 2017 he was commissioned by Faber and Faber to write the official biography of Seamus Heaney.

The six nominated titles for the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2021’ were:

•    Your One Wild and Precious Life – Maureen Gaffney
•    A Hug For You – David King
•    Aisling and the City – Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
•    Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? – Séamas O’Reilly
•    We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 – Fintan O’Toole
•    Beautiful World, Where Are You? – Sally Rooney

Commenting on the 2021 winner, David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, said: “I think it’s an astonishing book, fresh and passionate. Deeply moving but often funny and wry, a chronicle for our times. The most remarkable Irish non-fiction book I’ve read in the last 10 years.”

Fintan O’Toole, winner of the ‘ 2021 An Post Irish Book of the Year’, said: “To have a book that you hope speaks to people outside of a particular category, I suppose it’s trying to recognise something that maybe hits a chord more generally with Irish people with where Ireland is right now. Also, unlike other books I’ve written in the past, this one is pretty personal – there’s quite a lot of ‘me’ in it, so it feels a bit more vulnerable and therefore you’re just a bit more grateful if people like it!” 

In case you missed it, you can now watch the full ‘An Post Book of the Year’ TV programme

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