‘The Bee Sting’ by Paul Murray named the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2023

Winner revealed on one-hour television special on RTÉ One


‘The Bee Sting’ by Paul Murray has been announced as the overall ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2023’.


The book was among six titles competing for the accolade, all of which were category winners at the 2023 An Post Irish Book Awards and were chosen on the principle of the highest number of votes secured during the shortlist voting process across all categories.


Paul Murray’s book, which was also shortlisted for The Booker Prize, was unveiled as the winning title during a one-hour special television show aired on RTÉ One this evening hosted by Oliver Callan. Murray’s book won the ‘Eason Novel of the Year’ at the recent An Post Irish Book Awards.


Described in The Guardian as a “brilliantly funny, deeply sad portrait of an Irish family in crisis”, Paul Murray’s The Bee Sting attracted a chorus of unanimously positive reviews on publication. His elevation to the Booker Prize longlists and shortlists merely confirmed his inexorable rise from promising talent to a first-rank world novelist. Murray combines a level of seriousness with an attractive strain of humour which endears his work not just to critics and reviewers but to individual readers, an unbeatable combination.


Paul Murray was born and raised in South Dublin and wrote his first novel, ‘An Evening of Long Goodbyes,’ while studying for a MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. ‘An Evening of Long Goodbyes’ was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and nominated for Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. Murray’s tragicomic masterpiece ‘Skippy Dies’ was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and longlisted for The Booker Prize. ‘The Mark and the Void’ was the joint winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and was named one of Time’s Top 10 Fiction Books of the Year.


The overall ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2023’ winner was decided by a distinguished panel of judges, including a literary editor, a bestselling novelist, a broadcaster with RTÉ, Director of International Trade with An Post, the CEO of Children’s Books Ireland and a bookstore general manager.


The judging panel consisted of:

  • Madeleine Keane, Judging Chair – Literary editor of the Sunday Independent, lecturer at University College Dublin and Board Member of Children’s Books Ireland


  • Sinead Moriarty – Award-winning author of 16 novels and three children’s books. Sinead is the books ambassador for the ‘Eason Must Reads’ book club and founded and co-hosted the podcast ‘What’s In The Water’ with fellow author Anna McPartlin


  • Rick O’Shea – Broadcaster with RTÉ Gold, Rick runs The Rick O’Shea Book Club on Facebook and chooses the ‘Eason Must Reads’ list four times a year. He is also literary curator for the annual UCD Festival and a board member of Fighting Words NI in Belfast


  • Cyril McGrane – A certified public accountant by profession, Cyril has worked with An Post for the last 26 years, holding a succession of senior roles in retail, operational and logistics management. Cyril is An Post’s key liaison lead with IPC and UPU and he is leading An Post’s Customs 2020 and Brexit programmes


  • Elaina Ryan – CEO of Children’s Books Ireland and Co-Artistic Director of Tower and Tales Children’s Books Festival in Co. Wexford


  • Tómas Kenny – General Manager of Kenny’s bookshop, Tomás has worked in Kenny’s for over 20 years, dealing with purchasing, marketing and the selling of new, second hand and rare books along with archive material. He has served on the committee of Bookselling Ireland since 2020

Madeleine Keane, Chair of the Judging Panel, said:

“The Bee Sting was the judges’ unanimous choice as the An Post Book of the Year. Paul Murray is an exceptional contemporary Irish novelist as evidenced in his fine body of work, culminating in this dazzling achievement. The Bee Sting is a bravura feat – a wildly funny, tragic giant of a novel with a symphony of compelling voices. Murray evokes Ireland’s complexities and vagaries while taking in vital universal themes of love, greed, desire, and disappointment. Along with my fellow judges, I am very proud to see it crowned the most outstanding book of 2023.”


The six nominated titles for the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year 2023’ were:

  • Strange Sally Diamond – Liz Nugent (Sandycove)
  • The Bee Sting – Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)
  • Poor – Katriona O’Sullivan (Sandycove)
  • A Thread of Violence – Mark O’Donnell (Granta Books)
  • I Am the Wind: Irish Poems for Children Everywhere – Edited by Lucinda Jacob and Sarah Webb, illustrated by Ashwin Chacko (Little Island Books)
  • The Grass Ceiling – Eimear Ryan (Sandycove)


In case you missed it, you can now watch the

‘An Post Book of the Year’ TV programme on the RTÉ player


David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, said:

“Paul Murray’s novel was a standout in a great year for Irish fiction. The Bee Sting is marked by originality and beautiful writing; and it will stand the test of time.”


Previous winners of the An Post Irish Book of the Year Award include Sally Hayden for My Fourth Time, We Drowned, Fintan O’Toole for We Don’t Know Ourselves, Doireann Ní Ghríofa for A Ghost in the Throat, the late Vicky Phelan for Overcoming, Emilie Pine for Notes to Self, John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and John Borgonovo for Atlas of the Irish Revolution, Mike McCormack for Solar Bones, Louise O’Neill for Asking For It, Mary Costello for Academy St, Donal Ryan for The Spinning Heart, Michael Harding for Staring at Lakes, and Belinda McKeon for Solace.


For further information, please visit the An Post Irish Book Awards website or social media channels:


Facebook: @AnPostIBAS

Instagram: @anpost_irishbookawards

Twitter: @AnPostIBAS

TikTok: @anpost_irishbookawards