Bewitching contender for Impac award


Sir, – Eileen Battersby’s view that Kevin Barry’s winning of the Impac award was richly deserved, but that there was one other real contender for this award, namely, Kjersti Skomsvold’s The Faster I Walk The Smaller I Am (Arts & Ideas, June 7th) is a very fair one, confirmed to a large degree by the opinions expressed on these two novels on RTÉ’s Arena programme of June 5th.

However, it’s worth pointing out that Ms Battersby’s own, glowing, review of this novel in 2011, played a huge part in our knowing about it. Until then, no other review of the English translation from the original Norwegian, published by Dalkey Island Press had appeared anywhere in the world, outside of Winnipeg, Canada! Following the Irish Times review, Skomsvold’s narrative of an absurd yet deadly serious existential crisis “went viral”, for want of a better phrase, in Ireland.

Hodges Figgis invited Kjersti Skomsvold and her translator, Kerri A Pierce, to its store to give a reading; the author gave many media interviews and was invited to several literary festivals; it received perhaps the ultimate accolade of popular approval by being selected as an RTÉ Radio Book on One, read con brio by Rosaleen Linehan, and broadcast earlier this year.

Even after its shortlisting for the Impac award, not a single UK newspaper or literary periodical judged it worthy of more than a sentence (the Guardian was alone in providing a hyperlink to a 2011 online review). All the more reason then, to be grateful to the Irish Times Literary Correspondent for giving Irish readers the opportunity to enjoy and be bewitched by the novel itself, and its miraculous translation, in which semiotic conceits, verbal gymnastics of all kinds, and even a palindrome – “DOG” – were, GOD only knows how, recreated. – Yours, etc,


(Research Associate),

School of English,

Trinity College,

Dublin 2.