Published in 2008, The Secret Scripture won the overall prize at the Costa Book of the Year Awards and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, where it was defeated by the hugely overrated The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
It is the only Irish choice among the 20 books chosen by the organisers of World Book Night, which takes place on Tuesday, April 23rd.
World Book Night is a charitable organisation registered in the UK, with the aim of fostering reading among members of the community who might not be regular readers. As many as 20,000 volunteers are recruited each year to hand out 20 copies of their favourite book from the list.
And The Gutter Bookshop on Cow’s Lane in Temple Bar will become a focal point of the occasion in Dublin as it hands out free copies of The Secret Scripture on the night.
Although better known for many years as a playwright, 57-year-old Dubliner Barry has become a notable novelist of late, with each of his last three novels – A Long, Long Way (2005), The Secret Scripture (2008) and On Canaan’s Side (2011) – all either shortlisted or longlisted for the Booker.
The Secret Scripture concerns the fortunes of 100-year-old Roseanne McNulty, who has spent half her life as a resident in Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital.