Impac Award (unimaginative post title)
Another day, another shortlist, and this time it’s for the Impac Award. The eight finalists are now tantalisingly close to a cool €100,000, which wouldn’t go astray in these difficult times. Now, the appearance of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist or Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on the list might make it seem a little after the fact, but only because the Impac has a particularly lengthy lead-in time (If I understand the rules correctly, in order to qualify for the 2009 awards novels had to be published either in English between January 1 and December 31 2007, or first published in an English translation between those dates). Books are nominated for the award by libraries all over the world, with a panel of judges winnowing it down to the shortlist, and then choosing a winner. So let’s see then: you could get whingey about the lack of female authors or Irish authors, or you could accentuate the positive for once, and point up the presence of a Dominican-American, a Pakistani-British, a French, a Norwegian and three American writers. Which sounds like something you could get your teeth into. Except for David Leavitt – spare me.