A record eight Irish writers feature on Impac longlist


Christmas now tends to come early each year with announcement of the International Impac Dublin Literary Award nominations.

The longlist, published today, consists of titles proposed by libraries all over the world.

At this stage the award is very much a reader’s prize; now the judges will take over to select the shortlist from which the eventual winner emerges. Invariably dominated by international bestsellers and familiar novels that have already won major awards and preoccupied many book clubs, the strength of Impac rests in its showcasing of international fiction, in particular works in translation.

Irish fiction has its largest representation yet, with eight nominated writers including Kevin Barry for City of Bohane, Christine Dwyer-Hickey, former Impac contender Sebastian Barry, John Boyne, Dermot Healy, Paul Callan and Margaret Mazzantini.

Also among this year’s 154 titles is Julian Barnes’s Man Booker winner The Sense of an Ending and Andrew Miller’s Costa victor, Pure. There are a further 20 British writers such as Alan Hollinghurst with The Stranger’s Child and PD James with an unusual who-done-it.

Belfast-born Jane Harris is included with Gillespie and I.

Among the 13 Canadians are former Man Booker contenders Patrick deWitt, poet Esi Edugyan and 1992 Booker winner Michael Ondaatje.

Also present is Guy Vanderhaeghe and British-born Helen Humphreys. Newfoundlander Wayne Johnston features with A World Elsewhere.

Australian Elliot Perlman’s The Street Sweeper and the Oslo-born Steve Sem-Sandberg’s The Emperor of Lies, revisit the legacy of the Holocaust while Libyan author Hisham Matar’s Anatomy of a Disappearance is one of the most harrowing and finest nominations.

Norway’s Roy Jacobsen and Kjersti A Skomsvold appear along with 43 Americans, British-born Australian veteran Alex Miller, France’s Delphine de Vigan and German writers Ingo Schulze, Judith Hermann and Thomas Pletzinger.

The shortlist will be announced on April 9th.

Five books prize worthy

* The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips. Too clever, too funny, too eccentric to win – but what fun from a talented American.

* The Truth about Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint. Witty autopsy of a relationship and its aftermath by a Belgian novelist who defers to Tati.

* A World Elsewhere by Wayne Johnston. Quite a story about a man who wants to become a writer. This is a big book worthy of a big prize.

* Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar. A wonderful book, very moving and its emotional force matches its political relevance.

* Cold Eye of Heaven by Christine Dwyer Hickey. Shades of Beckett’s Malone Dies, yet Dwyer Hickey gives this profound novel a special humanity.