Adrian Duncan’s ‘Love Notes from a German Building Site’ wins John McGahern Book Prize 2020

Cover of Love Notes from a German Building Site by Adrian Duncan

Love Notes from a German Building Site, the debut novel by ACW alum Adrian Duncan, has been awarded the inaugural John McGahern Book Prize 2020.

Image: cover art, Love Notes from a German Building Site, courtesy of

The book, published in 2019, centres around Paul, a young Irish engineer working on a building in Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Having followed his girlfriend to the city Paul grapples with a new language, pressures of a project behind schedule and a relationship in flux. [1]

Speaking to The Irish Times Duncan said: “I am very moved and proud to be awarded this wonderful book prize. To be associated with John McGahern, a writer I have admired for so long, is an incredible honour.

“I owe much to my publisher, The Lilliput Press, for taking a chance on me and for their continued support. I would like to extend my gratitude also to the Institute of Irish Studies for bringing this prize into being. A prize of this kind, apart from the great honour, is also of considerable financial help to any writer starting out on the road.”

The prize of £5000 was set up by the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool. The judging panel comprised of university chancellor and author Colm Tóibín; vice-chancellor Prof Janet Beer; professor of Irish literature in English, Frank Shovlin; and The Irish Times fiction reviewer Sarah Gilmartin. [2]

Colm Tóibín has praised the book for it’s ‘spare, exact prose’ and notes that ‘Duncan writes beautifully about cold weather, gruff manners, systems of hierarchy. He also writes beautifully about precious time off, or the occasions when memory takes over.’ [1] [2]

Adrian Duncan is a writer and visual artist based in Berlin and Ireland. In addition to his novels he is coeditor of Paper Visual Arts Journal and works across a wide range of visual media, including film. Since graduating from NCAD’s MA Art in the Contemporary World in 2011 he has worked with ACW as a guest tutor, and has taught widely in institutions across Ireland and in Berlin. [3]

Love Notes from a German Building Site is available to buy at Lilliput Press and Head of Zeus. Duncan’s recently published second novel, A Sabbatical in Leipzig is also available from Lilliput Press.

[1] Love Notes from a German Building Site webpage, The Lilliput Press

[2] Doyle, M. Adrian Duncan wins inaugural John McGahern Book Prize The Irish Times, 26th June 2020.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.