Annal: 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2001.

Book:No Great Mischief

No Great Mischief: A Novel

Alistair MacLeod

In 1779 Calum MacDonald set sail in exile from the Highlands of Scotland with his wife and twelve children, along with the dog who would not be left behind and swam after the departing boat. After a catastrophic crossing he landed in the New World at Cape Breton, by which time he had become a widower and a grandfather.

Two hundred years later, another MacDonald tells the story of coming of age in that same bleak Cape Breton landscape. Alexander is orphaned by a cruel accident on the ice, and his yearning for connection with family produces two of the most vivid narrative strands: a summer spent in the mines with his wild older brothers that ends in murder and, much later, his tender care for one of those brothers, now a dying alcoholic. The first lesson Alexander learns from his grandmother is “Always look after your blood.” But, as revealed in the elegant twining of this tale, blood and history are all but inescapable for the MacDonalds. The brothers still speak Gaelic to each other; legends lurk at the edge of the simplest conversation; language and music are themselves links to a heroic, defeated past.

Book:The Blackwater Lightship

The Blackwater Lightship: A Novel

Colm Tóibín

A beautifully written, deeply resonant story about three generations of an estranged family reuniting to mourn a tragic, untimely death—from the author Nick Hornby called “one of the most promising novelists writing in the English language.”

It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother Lily, and her grandmother Dora have come together, after a decade of estrangement, to tend to Helen’s beloved brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. Under the crumbling roof of Dora’s old house in Ireland, Declans’ two friends join the women as each waits for the end. All six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other.

In spare, luminous prose, Toibin explores the nature of love and the complex emotion inside an unhappy family. The Blackwater Lightship is a novel about morals and manners, and the clashes of culture and personality. But most of all, it is a novel about stories, and their incomparable capacity to heal the deepest wounds.

Book:The Clay Machine-Gun

The Clay Machine-Gun

Victor Pelevin, Andrew Bromfield

The Clay Machine-Gun is a novel rich in hilarious paradox. Pelevin himself has described it as “the first novel in world literature which takes place in an absolute void”. Controversially denied the Russian Booker Prize—the Jury President branded it as a kind of “computer virus designed to destroy the cultural memory”—the book became a huge cult success in Russia.

The Clay Machine-Gun is a nightmarish fantasy about identity, crime and Russian history. The action cuts deliriously between present-day Moscow and 1919, the era of the Civil War, in which the narrator finds himself serving as a commissar in the division of the legendary commander Vasily Chapaev, and his formidable machine-gunner sidekick, Anna.

Hailed as the greatest Russian novel of the post-Soviet era, The Clay Machine-Gun confirmed Victor Pelevin’s status as one of the brightest stars in the Russian literary firmament.

Book:The Love You Promised Me

The Love You Promised Me

Silvia Molina, David Unger

Marcela, the heroine of the novel, is a modern, professional woman in her forties sifting through her disappointment after a brief, but intense, extra-marital affair. As the novel opens, Marcela is in the town of San Lázaro, the home town of her forebears, not only to pick up the pieces of her life but also to discover the secret past of her parents. Set in Mexico in 1994, Mexico’s last elections, the Mayan insurrection in Chiapas and the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio serve not only as backdrop, but also parallel the emotional vicissitudes in Marcela’s own life.

Book:Our Fathers

Our Fathers

Andrew O'Hagan

Hugh Bawn was a modern hero, a dreamer, a Socialist, a man of the people who revolutionized Scotland’s residential development after World War II. Now he lies dying on the eighteenth floor of one of the flats he built, flats that are being demolished along with the idealism he inherited from his mother. Hugh’s final months are plagued by memory and loss, by bitter feelings about his family and the country that could not live up to the housing constructed for it. His grandson, Jamie, comes home to watch over his dying mentor and sees in the man and in the land that bred him his own fears. He tells the story of his family-a tale of pride and delusion, of nationality and strong drink, of Catholic faith and the end of the old Left. It is a tale of dark hearts and modern houses, of three men in search of Utopia. Andrew O’Hagan’s story is a poignant and powerful reclamation of the past and a clear-sighted look at our relationship with personal and public history. Our Fathers announces the arrival of a major writer.

Book:The True History of Paradise

The True History of Paradise: A Novel

Margaret Cezair-Thompson

Easter, 1981, and Jamaica’s in a state of emergency. With violence in the streets and a government about to collapse, the Landing family gathers to bury one of its own. For Monica Landing, the proud, imperious matriarch who had not spoken to her daughter in fifteen years, the death of Lana Landing is the cruelest kind of loss. For Lana’s younger sister, Jean, it is a tragedy she cannot comprehend. All she knows is that her beloved homeland, with its blue mountains and exuberant flora, its rich African rhythms and crashing ocean waves, holds no future for her.

But flight means crossing a landscape where soldiers turned executioners and armed gangs rule, where fires rage and unburied bodies lie in the roads. Flight means making her way through the memories that engulf her, with a good and silent man, perhaps the only man she has ever loved, traveling by her side, caught up in his own tormented memories of Jean’s beautiful, flamboyant…[more]

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