We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2021 David Cohen Prize for Literature. The prize was awarded to an Irish writer who has thrilled readers for decades, with a huge and devoted following: Colm Tóibín.
Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He started writing at the age of 12, and has drawn admiration from countless readers: his deep pleasure in writing is evident and is fêted by readers and viewers across the world. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, his output includes ten novels and eleven works of non-fiction, as well as poetry, short story and essay collections, and journalism. His novel, Brooklyn, was adapted for film in 2016. His most recent novel, The Magician, published in September 2021, reaffirmed his position as “one of our greatest living novelists” (The i).
Now it is with pleasure and recognition that the David Cohen Prize for Literature is awarded to him.
Hermione Lee, chair of judges, said: “Chairing the David Cohen Prize-judging for the first time has been an enormous pleasure and exciting privilege for me. Colm Tóibín was our unanimous choice and we’re all proud and delighted to be giving him the prize. I think of him as a Renaissance man who can do almost everything with equal brilliance: he’s a novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, travel-writer, critic, teacher, journalist and activist for gay rights. His novels and stories imagine their way into the lives and minds of others with amazing empathy and skill. He’s a deeply perceptive writer who can also be lethally funny and daringly erotic. He’s a truly international figure, and a watchful historian of our times. He’s a beautiful writer of loss and grief, silence and quietness. He writes with the intensity of a poet and the lyric rhythms of a musician. I have never missed a book by him and every book of his I’ve read has been a revelation. He’s one of the essential writers of our times.”
The David Cohen Prize for Literature was awarded on Monday 13 December 2021 at RIBA in London.
The Clarissa Luard Award – worth £10,000 – as selected by the 2021 winner of the David Cohen Prize, was given on the same evening to the poet Padraig Regan.