New York-based Irish writer Colum McCann, 37, was awarded the first ever Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award on October 5, 2002 at the Hôtel de Paris, Monte Carlo. The award entitled “the Ireland Fund of Monaco Literary Award in Memory of Princess Grace” has a value of 15,000 euro and was created to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Grace.
McCann, who was born and raised in Dublin, has already won two Hennessy Prizes, a Pushcart Prize and a Rooney Prize. His works include the novels Songdogs (1995) and This Side of Brightness (1998) which was short-listed for the Impac Prize. His collection of one novella and two short stories published in 2000 — Everything in This Country Must — deals with children caught up in the Northern Irish Troubles and was awarded Irish Book of the Year 2000. His next book Dancer will be published in January 2003.
The award was presented to McCann by Prince Albert of Monaco (see picture above), the son of the late Princess Grace.
McCann was chosen by a selection committee in Dublin that included the Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, author and historian Roy Foster, and Maurice Hayes, Chairman of the Ireland Funds, and A.W.B. Vincent, president of the Ireland Fund of Monaco. “I am incredibly proud,” said McCann. “I supposed we can’t ever guess what echo our words will find. To win an award like this is particularly special. And to be given the nod by people like Seamus Heaney and Roy Foster is deeply flattering. I’ve always thought that if I could do just a tiny portion of what Heaney has done, I’d be doing a lot.” ♦