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.
The IMPAC Award shortlist was announced last night. The IMPAC sets itself apart with its unique approach. Its massive longlist is compiled by libraries all over the world before being whittled down by judges. This makes for a more egalitarian selection. It’s also got a long lead time. Books up for the current prize (to be named June 11th) were all published in 2007, putting the IMPAC more than a year behind other big literary awards. There’s a distinct upside in this. By now, all the shortlisted books are available in paperback. We’ve also always found the IMPAC interesting for the breadth of books it considers.This year’s shortlist includes a couple well-known names and has a decidedly more American bent than is typical, with four out of the eight shortlisted writers hailing from the States.The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (Díaz in our Year in Reading)Ravel by Jean Echenoz (at The Complete Review)The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (excerpt, at The Complete Review)The Archivist’s Story by Travis Holland (excerpt)The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen (in the TLS)The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt (Leavitt in our Year in Reading)Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (excerpt)Man Gone Down by Micheal Thomas (excerpt)
The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has unveiled its voluminous 2009 longlist. Recall that libraries around the world can nominate books for the prize, and these nominations, taken together, comprise the longlist. This year there are 146 novels on the list, nominated by 157 libraries in 41 countries. All of the books must have been published in English in 2007 (including translations).Because of the award’s global reach and egalitarian process, it’s always interesting to dig deeper into the longlist. Taken as a whole, the literary proclivities of various countries become evident, and a few titles recur again and again, revealing which books have made a global impact on readers.Overall favorites: books that were nominated by at least five libraries.A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (18 libraries representing Belgium, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, and the US)Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (13 libraries representing Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US)On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (10 libraries representing Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Germany, Portugal, The Netherlands, and the US)The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (8 libraries representing Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and the US)The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (8 libraries representing Canada, England, and the US)The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (7 libraries representing Ireland and the US)The Gathering by Anne Enright (6 libraries representing Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, and the US)What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn (5 libraries representing Canada, England, and Northern Ireland)You can also look at the list and see which books are favorites in different countries. Several books were nominated by multiple libraries in the same country. Here’s a few:In The Netherlands, The Dinner Club by Saskia Noort and Lost Paradise by Cees NooteboomIn the US, Tree of Smoke by Denis JohnsonIn Canada, Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay and The Outlander by Gil AdamsonThere were also several countries with only one library nominating just one or two books. Here are a few of those:From Colombia, Delirium by Laura RestrepoFrom Barbados, Man Gone Down by Michael ThomasFrom Estonia, Between Each Breath by Adam ThorpeFrom Jamaica, The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-ThompsonFrom Russia, Tomorrow by Graham SwiftFrom The Gambia, Ishq and Mushq by Priya BasilThe shortlist will be announced on April 2, 2009 and the winner on June 11, 2009.