Skip to main content

This news post is more than 1 year old

Sally Hayden wins 2022 Michel Déon Prize

Today Sally Hayden was announced as the winner of the prestigious 2022 Royal Irish Academy Michel Déon Prize for non-fiction for her debut book My Fourth Time, We Drowned (Harper Collins, 4th Estate).

My Fourth Time, We Drowned offers a staggering investigation into the migrant crisis across North Africa. Bringing together real stories, reporter Sally Hayden shows how refugees face enslavement and trafficking, torture and murder, tuberculosis, drowning and sexual abuse. She also illuminates how incarceration and human rights disaster can come as a direct result of European policy, exposing the negligence of NGOs, the corruption of the United Nations and the economics of the twenty-first-century slave trade. Ultimately, this is a panoramic enquiry into the people forced into unimaginable choices, and a system that wants them to be silent and disappear.

Professor Michael Cronin, Chair of the Royal Irish Academy’s judging committee said ‘Sally Hayden’s work is a vivid, harrowing, and compelling account of human destitution, about what happens when Europe turns its back on African refugees seeking to flee the twin horrors of persecution and hunger. Hayden shares with the other shortlisted authors—Nicholas Canny, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Rosaleen McDonagh, Susan McKay, and Sophie White—a remarkable ability to give voice and bear witness to the many forms of exclusion, both past and present, in the private lives and public debates of our society.’

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, congratulating Sally Hayden and all the shortlisted writers, said ‘The Department of Foreign Affairs is delighted to fund the Michel Déon Prize, which recognises outstanding literary talent and strengthens the cultural ties between Ireland and France and between our two national academies. These cultural connections are deep, rooted in centuries of contact and exchange, and of renewed importance now that France is our nearest EU neighbour’.

In her acceptance speech, Sally Hayden thanked the judging panel and said that her prize money would be donated to the survivors.

Michel Déon was one of the most innovative and reflective French writers of the twentieth century who lived in Ireland from the 1970s until his death in 2016. The Michel Déon Prize was created in 2018 to honour Déon’s legacy and to continue his work of championing writing talent.

Sally Hayden is an award-winning journalist and photographer focused on migration, conflict and humanitarian crises. She is currently the Africa correspondent for the Irish Times, and has also reported for the BBC, CNN International, the Financial Times, TIME, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New York Times, Channel 4 News, Al Jazeera and many others. In 2019, she was included on the Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list of media in Europe. She also won The Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2022 for her debut book My Fourth Time, We Drowned.

The €10,000 prize for the winning author is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Prize is awarded in France every second year by the Académie française and Sally will also get the opportunity to give ‘The Michel Déon Lecture’ in France in 2023.