Loose Leaves


A round-up of the week's literary news

Euro prize shortlist

The Irish jury for the European Prize for Literature (Ireland) this week announced its shortlist. The six writers included are Karen Gillece, Alison Jameson, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Pádraig Ó Gallachóir and Stephen Price. The prize, for an emerging author of fiction, is a joint initiative between the European Writers’ Council, the European Booksellers Federation and the Federation of European Publishers. The Irish jury is composed of members of the Irish Writers’ Union, of Clé – The Irish Book Publishers’ Association, the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild and of the Irish branch of the Booksellers Association.

The writers eligible must be citizens of the Republic of Ireland and have had their first two books of fiction published since 2004. The jury made their choice from a longlist of 32 eligible authors, writing in English and Irish. The winner will be announced next week, and the €5,000 prize presented in Brussels in September, where the winner will be feted at an event at which winners from 11 other EU states will also receive their prizes.

Won in translation

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2009 has been won by the Colombian author Evelio Rosero for his novel, The Armies(Maclehose Press). The £10,000 prize money is shared equally with his translator, Anne McLean, who he particularly saluted. “My thanks most of all to Anne McLean, unsurpassable translator of Spanish-speaking writers, for the beautiful English she made out of my anguish and love for my country.”

Chair of the judges, Boyd Tonkin saluted The Armiesas a beautifully wrought, gently spoken novel of love, war and grief. “It not only laments the Colombian people’s tragedy but celebrates the universal but always fragile virtues of everyday life and speaks of terrible events with a precision and humanity that earn the reader’s affection as well as respect.”

The award, a partnership between Arts Council England and the London Independentis run in association with Champagne Taittinger.

The prize celebrates an exceptional work of fiction by a living author that has been translated into English from any other language and published in the UK in the past year. Previous winners of the award – which acknowledges the writer and translator equally – include José Eduardo Agualusa and Daniel Hahn (2007), Per Petterson and Anne Born (2006), Frédéric Beigbeder and Frank Wynne (2005) and Javier Cercas and Anne McLean (2004).

Anne McLean has translated books by a number of writers, including Julio Cortázar, Tomás Eloy Martínez and Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Her translation of Soldiers of Salamisby Javier Cercas was shortlisted for the 2008 Impac Prize and was awarded the 2004 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and Premio Valle Inclán.

Doyle and ex-con man

American Joe Loya – whose memoir, The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber, tells the story of how he went from being a religious and ambitious east LA Protestant schoolboy to a con man and bank robber who turned his life around during seven years in jail – will take part in an event introduced by Roddy Doyle (below) in Dublin next week in the Fighting Words creative writing centre.

Doyle met him last October in San Francisco, at 826 Valencia, the writing centre that inspired Fighting Words. “He told me about his fondness for Ireland and things Irish. He quotes Yeats in The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell. We swapped e-mail addresses and kept in touch. I’d met the man, so I bought the book and read it. It’s a brilliant book – frightening, and often hilarious, brutal and brutally honest, tender and wild, potentially awful but actually very exhilarating.”

The event is at Fighting Words, Behan Square, Russell Street, Dublin 1 on Thursday, May 28th, at 7pm. Admission is free; book at bookings@fightingwords.ie.