The IMPAC Award is one of the more interesting prizes we cover. Its longlist is composed of nominations from dozens of libraries around the world. The upside is that the books are an typically an eclectic bunch (especially in the very long longlist) and that they represent the choices of a very different group from the cadre of critics and literary luminaries that usually decide awards. The downside is that thanks to the award’s arduous process, it is several months behind other prizes in recognizing books. For example, the 2008 award is made up of books published in English in 2006.Tardiness aside, the IMPAC is typically interesting, and this year’s recently unveiled shortlist is no exception. In fact, unlike last year when some quite well-known books made the cut (and Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses took home the prize) this year’s list is devoid of household names and has no overlap with any of the “major” book prize shortlists. Here are the shortlisted books:The Speed of Light by Javier Cercas (at the Complete Review)The Sweet and Simple Kind by Yasmine Gooneratne (interview)De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage (Andrew’s review)Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (review in The Guardian)Let it be Morning by Sayed Kashua (review in the Boston Review)The Attack by Yasmina Khadra (excerpt, at the Complete Review)Winterwood by Patrick McCabe (review in The Guardian)The Woman who Waited by Andrei Makine (review in the New York Times)
Scott of Conversational Reading invited me to participate in his “Reading the World” series this month. My contribution was reading and posting about Per Petterson’s In the Wake.I don’t read enough fiction in translation, maybe a couple of books per year. When I do the experience elicits one of two reactions. Either the book is so rooted in its place and culture that I can’t imagine it being written in another language, or the book, despite its overseas origins, shows that there are universals in literature, no matter the language in which a book was conceived. Norwegian Per Petterson’s In the Wake falls mostly into the latter camp, as it draws from the grand tradition of books about ruminating, somewhat pathetic male protagonists who appear to live their lives mostly in their heads.Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day comes to mind, and Richard Ford has made a career out of this type of book. But my favorite example from this crowded genre is Walker Percy’s pitch perfect The Moviegoer.Read the rest of the review at Conversational reading.Also of Note: Petterson just won the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his book Out Stealing Horses. We took a look at the IMPAC shortlist in April.
The IMPAC shortlist has arrived. If you don’t know about the IMPAC, it’s a very unique prize with a very long longlist. This year’s longlist was composed of nominees from 169 libraries in 45 countries 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. There’s more info about the award at the IMPAC site. Now, here’s the shortlist with some comments:Arthur and George by Julian Barnes – Was shortlisted for the Booker back in 2005 – excerptA Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry – Joined Barnes on the 2005 Booker shortlist.Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee – This book was featured in our long ago post “The beauty of British book design.”Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – Corey took a look at this book in a “CVBoMC” installment last year. – excerpt.The Short Day Dying by Peter Hobbs – This debut effort by British novelist Hobbes was nominated by a single library in Bergen, NorwayNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy – With The Road getting all the praise these days, some might forget that McCarthy’s previous novel hit shelves just 21 months ago, a blink of an eye for a writer who’s written ten books in 41 years – excerptOut Stealing Horses by Per Petterson – This book by the Norwegian Petterson won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize last year. It’ll be published in the U.S. next month.Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie – Shalimar was a Whitbread finalist in 2005, but generally the book is not thought to be one of Rushdie’s best efforts. The book was nominated by a library in Berlin – excerpt