The 2008-09 book award season has come to a close with the awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas. You’ll recall that libraries around the world can nominate books for the prize, and these nominations, taken together, comprise a very long longlist. These are then whittled down by judges to a shortlist and then ultimately whittled further leaving a winner.
Despite this year’s odd occurrence of an all-male shortlist, the award typically does a very good job of highlighting diverse and often underappreciated titles. Case in point, Man Gone Down is a debut novel put out by independent publishing house Grove/Atlantic. Publishers Weekly writes of the book “For all of the introspection and occasional indulgence in self-pity, the narrator retains a note of hard-won optimism, and Thomas resolutely steers him clear of sentimentality.” And a very brief excerpt is available at the Grove/Atlantic site. Even more interesting, author Thomas is American, but his book was nominated for the longlist by just a single library in Barbados.