Ruth Gilligan wins RSL Ondaatje Prize for “The Butchers”

Ruth Gilligan, the youngest Irish author to top the bestseller list has won this year’s Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize for The Butchers, her literary thriller set along the Border during the 1996 BSE crisis.

The prestigious annual prize worth £10,000 is awarded to an outstanding work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best evokes the spirit of a place. According to the Irish Times, Gilligan said: “I am just elated – and still totally shocked – to have won. I am a sucker for books with a strong sense of place, so I have long been a huge fan of the prize, but after a year of isolation and confinement, it feels more pertinent than ever to be celebrating the transportive power of reading.”

The Butchers is Gilligan’s fifth novel.

Baroness Young of Hornsey, chair of the judges, said: “Our winning title’s been described in many different terms: literary thriller, coming of age story, historical fiction, an account of superstition and the supernatural, but it doesn’t matter how it’s categorised – it’s a page turning, roller coaster of a read.”

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