Apples and Oranges: Irish Book of the Decade Award

How can you compare Skulduggery Pleasant to PS, I Love You? Or It’s A Long Way From Penny Apples to Ross O’Carroll-Kelly? The good people at the Irish Book Awards have just announced their shortlist of the top 50 Irish Books of the Decade, and there’s everything there from crime fiction to children’s books via literary fiction and history, biography and popular fiction.

We in O’Brien Press are thrilled that Des Ekin’s wonderful The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates is on the shortlist. The raid in 1631 by Morat Rais and his Algerian pirates on a small Cork village and the kidnapping, or killing, of just about the whole population was the single largest raid on the British Empire: the outrage that this could happen went all the way to the king! Des’s book uncovers this long-forgotten episode and makes it live and breathe, and has been hugely successful.

It’s hard to compare the books to each other given the huge range, but it’s a very good selection of books that no shop should be without, though maybe SO broad that no one person would be interested in the whole lot! It’s good also to see quite a few other Irish-published books on the list, giving the lie to the idea that you have to go to London to publish the very best books.

So go to and vote for your favourite!

Books appear in the strangest places!

It’s been a week of Bookspotting in The O’Brien Press. Firstly, there was Bono and The Stolen Village (not the bizarre new title of a U2 album, just check out the post below for an explanation!)

Then a staff member (who chooses to remain anonymous!) was watching the movie Shrooms where the doomed hapless tourists are using our Golden Book of Ireland as their guidebook. Given their grisly fate, I’m not sure how many people would take it as a recommendation, but maybe it’s one for thrillseekers!

Finally, we saw a post on David Maybury’s Blog — he was just in Hong Kong where he saw Judi Curtin‘s books on the shelves, reminding me of the lovely glow I felt when on holidays in France I saw a copy of the French edition of The Leprechaun Who Wished He Wasn’t on the shelves in FNAC!

Bono finds what he’s looking for at O’Brien Press

Last Saturday’s Sunday Times Magazine cover story, ‘Bono the shades come off’ (21 June 2009) by Chrissy Iley, mentions that Bono always has a few books on the go, we think that one of them in particular is an excellent choice:

“There are books everywhere. He likes to read about three at once. Currently there’s one about a tribe of pirates from the Barbary coast who took 130 Irish people from a town in County Cork and sold them as slaves in Algeria. And he’s reading Richard Dawkins’s A Devil’s Chaplain. An edition of Seamus Heaney is never far away, and beside it is the Koran given to him by Tony Blair.”

The book about ‘a tribe of pirates’ is Des Ekin’s The Stolen Village. I’m not surprised Bono is enjoying it – it’s an amazing book, the true story of the only pirate raid ever recorded on Irish soil. In 1631, pirates from Algiers descended on the little harbour town of Baltimore, west Cork, captured almost all the villagers and carried them away to a life of slavery in North Africa. Only two of them ever returned. It’s a really great read and Des brings the sights and sounds of seventeenth century Algiers, and the fate of the Irish villagers in their unfamiliar surroundings, vividly to life.