IMPAC shortlist

April 6, 2006 | 10 books mentioned 2

The IMPAC shortlist is in. If you don’t know about the IMPAC, it’s very unique prize with a very long longlist. The longlist is composed of nominees from over 150 libraries around the world. Those picks are then whittled down to a shortlist via a panel of judges. As you’ll see from the shortlist, since the process leading up to this award takes so long, some of the books aren’t exactly new. I think involving libraries makes the IMPAC unique compared to a lot of other awards out there. It seems a lot more egalitarian than, say, the Booker or the National Book Award, and I appreciate the international flavor as well. That’s why I included it in my prizewinners post last year. There’s more info about the award at the IMPAC site. Now, here’s the shortlist with some comments:

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. "Havoc in Its Third Year" has an enigmatic (apocalyptically enigmatic?) ending, but the story's relevance to present political/religious strife and an adroit rendering of 17th century speech help make it a compelling read. Brigge, the protagonist, is a supporter of rational civil and moral order, but in the novel, which takes place during the English Civil War (1640s), he faces fanatics and ruthless power-seekers who turn "live and let live" and the desire for justice tempered with mercy into liabilities. As he holds onto the truths that a later, more secular England would understand, his orderly life frays and then just disintegrates into a morass of mysticism (the OED defines "brigge" as an obsolete word for "strife, quarrel, contention" or alternately "intrique, faction"). Author Bennett lectures too much at times (lines like "Reason and scepticism were the mark of the faintheart and the traitor" and "Nothing on earth is as feeble and frightened as man, and nothing more deserving of compassion, of charity," sound simple and overly pointed) yet there are passages which not only resonate ("Let me have men who are doubtful, who struggle with their consciences, who sometimes are confused by right and wrong, whose perceptions fail, whose troubled minds lead them this way and that and even to dark places they should not go. I do not care for these certain men who insist that what they feel is the truth, as though their sincerity alone were enough to excuse their fanatic hearts."), but you wish someone in Congress would read them into the record.

  2. Thanks for pointing out this prize. I didn't know about it. I like the idea of a prize that isn't so tied down to the moment. The publishing industry tends to position books as very much related to a certain season and year (esp. the brutal shelving and un-shelving practices of the major chains), while one of the truly beautiful things about books is, of course, their timelessness.

Add Your Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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