‘DIARY of a Young Naturalist’, by Fermanagh native Dara McAnulty, has been named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2020 after hundreds of book lovers nominated their favourite titles of the year online.

The announcement came yesterday (Wednesday, November 25) on the eve of the Hay Festival Digital Winter Weekend, which is bringing writers and readers together from November 26-29 in a free digital wonderland of prize-winning literature, thoughtful conversation, candle-lit storytelling, comedy, music, and fun for all the family.

Now in its 21st year, the festival will be streamed live from Hay-on-Wye, starting the holiday season from the town of books in all its festive glory, and featuring a star-studded line-up of speakers and performers.

‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara’s world.

From Spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing.

These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling.

‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as an autistic teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning.

His win follows awards for ‘The Five’, by Hallie Rubenhold, in 2019; ‘Inventing Ourselves’, by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, in 2018; and ‘The Lost Words’, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, in 2017.

Gareth Howell-Jones, bookshop manager at Hay Festival, said: “In ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ Dara shares his extraordinary vision of nature.

“It’s both lyrical and exact – above all, it’s hopeful. The book was one of the most talked-about in our Spring event, and we are delighted to celebrate it as our title of 2020.”

McAnulty’s Hay Festival digital conversation about the book, with Steve Silberman, is the festival’s free film of the week on the Hay Player over at hayfestival.org/hayplayer.