Article published on June 5, 2015.
Once described as “the most eclectic and unpredictable of the literary world’s annual gongs”, the International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award, now in its twentieth year, is worth €100,000 to the winner and remains the world’s most valuable annual literary award for a single work of fiction published in English. Despite an element of controversy surrounding the loss of the original sponsor – Dublin City Council ponied up the prize fund in the absence of a replacement – the IMPAC continues to attract attention and this year’s extremely strong shortlist will do it no harm whatsoever.
Unusually, only one Irish novel made the cut this year and that’s TransAtlantic by Irish author and former winner, Colum McCann. Joining McCann, and among the favourites for the prize, are 2014 Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan ; and the critically-acclaimed (and recently “retired”) English novelist Jim Crace.
The adjudication of literary prizes has been a hot topic for some time, with the Man Booker debate on “readability” generating acres of comment about what prizes are really trying to achieve. This led to the founding of the rival Folio Prize for literary fiction, now itself sponsor-less with the withdrawal of the Folio Society. Amid this churn and turmoil, the IMPAC has held its course with admirable resolution. The selection process — nominations are submitted by public libraries worldwide — is unusual but in casting the net far and wide the quality of books foregrounded by the IMPAC has been consistently impressive. The 2015 Winner will be announced on 17th June.
The full shortlist is as follows:
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian) Published by Fourth Estate and by Alfred A. Knopf.
2. Horses of God by Mahi Binebine (Moroccan) Translated from French by Lulu Norman. Published by Tin House Books.
3. Harvest by Jim Crace (British) Published by Picador and by Alfred A. Knopf.
4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Australian) Published by Vintage Australia.
5. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Australian) First Novel. Published by Little, Brown & Company and by Picador Australia.
6. K by Bernardo Kucinski (Brazilian) Translated from Portuguese by Sue Branford. Published by Latin American Bureau.
7. Brief Loves That Live Forever by Andreï Makine (French, Russian-born) Translated from French by Geoffrey Strachan. Published by MacLehose Press.
8. TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (Irish) Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, Random House Inc. and HarperCollins Canada.
9. Someone by Alice McDermott (American) Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
10. Sparta by Roxana Robinson (American) Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Bert Wright – Editor, The Nudge List