Paul Murray was born in Dublin in 1975, and wrote his first novel – An Evening of Long Goodbyes – while doing a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

The Bee Sting is Murray’s fourth novel and is shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2023. His previous three – An Evening of Long Goodbyes, Skippy Dies and The Mark and the Void – have all met with critical acclaim. 

An Evening of Long Goodbyes was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and nominated for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. Skippy Dies was shortlisted for the Costa Novel award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and longlisted for the Booker Prize. The Mark and the Void won the Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2016. Paul Murray lives in Dublin.  


Paul Murray

Paul Murray on writing The Bee Sting

It took about five years, give or take. I spent some time going down rabbit holes of one kind and another before I finally started in earnest. I always write the first draft in longhand, then I type it up, then there are two or three major revisions before I’ll send it to the editor. Once it’s rolling the process is pretty steady – I treat it like a regular job, show up at my desk from Monday to Friday week after week till it’s done. I don’t take any serious time off from it – I need to stay in touch with the material, and anyway even when I’m not working on it I’ll be thinking about it. So holidays feel somewhat redundant. 

The last book I wrote was set in an investment bank, which entailed a lot of research. For this one I didn’t need to do any deep dives – it was more about getting the Midlands details right, the Millennial details right, the GAA stuff, and that could be researched by talking to people. The plot appears as I write – that is, once I start writing page 1, I’ll begin to get ideas for page 2, page 50, page 400. So there’s usually a fairly elaborate plan at a fairly early stage – though I try not to get too attached to it, because so much changes with the writing itself.

Read the full interview here

Paul Murray

Watch our interview with Paul Murray

Imelda Barnes is a wonderful creation – initially we see her exterior waspishness and materialism but as the book progresses, Murray skilfully reveals the family secrets which have led them all to their present situation. Imelda’s response to the hardship of her childhood is at once courageous, self-deluding and entirely human

— The Booker Prize 2022 judges on The Bee Sting

Susan Lynch reads from The Bee Sting

All nominated books

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
Skippy Dies