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The first ever Nero book of the year prize was awarded to Paul Murray's The Bee Sting.

The first ever Nero book of the year prize was awarded to Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting.

Irish writer Paul Murray has been awarded the first ever £30,000 Nero Gold Prize for his book The Bee Sting, which tells the comedic story of a family in rural Ireland.

On Thursday, Murray was declared the victor at a London ceremony. According to the judging chair and Booker Prize recipient, Bernardine Evaristo, the novel is a captivating and ambitious tale of a family’s downfall during Ireland’s economic and social turmoil of the late 2000s.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray.View image in fullscreen

The Bee Sting received the ultimate honor of being named book of the year, following its victory in the fiction category in January. It beat out other contenders, such as Close to Home by Michael Magee for the debut fiction category, Strong Female Character by Fern Brady for nonfiction, and The Swifts by Beth Lincoln for children’s fiction. Each winner of these categories will be awarded £5,000 as a prize.

“The Bee Sting” is a both thrilling and impressive book, filled with clever humor and genuine empathy. The characters are intricately developed, burdened by their pasts and struggling with their present circumstances while yearning for a brighter future,” praised Evaristo. They further added, “Murray’s talent as a storyteller shines through, unveiling hidden truths and unfulfilled desires within challenging and precarious situations. This novel is an elaborate and personal journey, encompassing both grand and intimate moments.”

The Nero book awards were launched in May last year, just under a year after Costa abruptly scrapped its awards after 50 years. The judges are asked to choose books that “they would most want to recommend to others for their quality writing and readability”.

According to Justine Jordan, the fiction editor for The Guardian, “The Bee Sting” keeps readers fully engrossed for hundreds of pages with its constant suspense and surprises that continue until the end. This intricately constructed novel, although lengthy, is expertly foreshadowed and has throwaway moments that reveal their importance upon a second read.

Evaristo, along with Susie Dent and James Naughtie, formed the judging panel. They all agreed without hesitation that The Bee Sting should win the 2023 Nero Gold prize for book of the year, praising its exceptional quality as a work of fiction.

Murray’s novel, The Bee Sting, was a finalist for both the Booker prize and the Writers’ prize (formerly the Rathbones Folio prize). It also received the An Post Irish book of the year award. This is Murray’s fourth novel, as he has also written An Evening of Long Goodbyes, Skippy Dies, and The Mark and the Void.

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The eligibility criteria for the Nero awards includes books published within the time frame of 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023, and authors who have lived in the UK or Ireland for the last three years.

Source: theguardian.com