Annal: 2002 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2002.

Book:The Elementary Particles

The Elementary Particles: A Novel

Michel Houellebecq, Frank Wynne

An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel–part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis-that leaps headlong into the malaise of contemporary existence.

Bruno and Michel are half-brothers abandoned by their mother, an unabashed devotee of the drugged-out free-love world of the sixties. Bruno, the older, has become a raucously promiscuous hedonist himself, while Michel is an emotionally dead molecular biologist wholly immersed in the solitude of his work. Each is ultimately offered a final chance at genuine love, and what unfolds is a brilliantly caustic and unpredictable tale.

Book:The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights in a dazzling new novel that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist.

For the past twenty-five years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishments as never before, creating a novel that is entertaining and profoundly serious.

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge.” They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura’s death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura’s story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel.…[more]

Book:The Keepers of Truth

The Keepers of Truth: A Novel

Michael Collins

The last of a manufacturing dynasty in a dying industrial town, Bill lives alone in the family mansion and works for the Truth, the moribund local paper. He yearns to write long philosophical pieces about the American dream gone sour, not the flaccid write-ups of bake-off contests demanded by the Truth. Then, old man Lawton goes missing, and suspicion fixes on his son, Ronny. Paradoxically, the specter of violent death breathes new life into the town. For Bill, a deeper and more disturbing involvement with the Lawtons ensues. The Lawton murder and the obsessions it awakes in the town come to symbolize the mood of a nation on the edge. Compulsively readable, The Keepers of Truth startles both with its insights and with Collins’s powerful, incisive writing.

Book:The Last Samurai: A Novel

The Last Samurai: A Novel

Helen DeWitt

This is the story of a single mother, Sibylla, who comes from a long line of frustrated talents, and her son Ludo, who just happens to be a genius. Obsessed with the film The Seventh Samurai, she makes it a running backdrop to Ludo’s childhood. At five Ludo learns ancient Greek, reading Homer as they travel round and round on the London Underground, teaches himself Hebrew, Arabic, Inuit, probability theory, astronomy, and is moving on to Japanese when he decides to embark on the search for his father—preferably the perfect father in the heroic mould, or at the very least, one with samurai virtues. He is bound for disappointment, and to find out more than he needs about his mother’s shaky past. And at the heart of this completely delightful, captivating novel is the boy’s changing relationship with his mother—contradictory, touching, and tender.

Full of linguistic pyrotechnics, fabulous learning, philosophy, science, and the workings of a brilliant mind, this is a must-read novel for everyone who relishes language, extravagant ideas, game theory, science, parenthood, not to mention Kurosawa’s cinematic masterpiece.

Book:Madame

Madame: A Novel

Antoni Libera, Agnieszka Kolakowska

Madame is an unexpected gem: a novel about Poland during the grim years of Soviet-controlled mediocrity, which nonetheless sparkles with light and warmth.

Our young narrator-hero is suffering through the regulated boredom of high school when he is transfixed by a new teacher—an elegant “older woman” (she is thirty-two) who bewitches him with her glacial beauty and her strict intelligence. He resolves to learn everything he can about her and to win her heart.

In a sequence of marvelously funny but sobering maneuvers, he learns much more than he expected to—about politics, Poland, the Spanish Civil War, and his own passion for theater and art—all while his loved one continues to elude him. Yet without his realizing it, his efforts—largely bookish and literary—to close in on Madame are his first steps to liberation as an artist.…[more]

Book:True History of the Kelly Gang

True History of the Kelly Gang: A Novel

Peter Carey

Out of nineteenth-century Australia rides a hero of his people and a man for all nations, in this masterpiece by the Booker Prize-winning author of Oscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs. Exhilarating, hilarious, panoramic, and immediately engrossing, it is also—at a distance of many thousand miles and more than a century—a Great American Novel.

This is Ned Kelly’s true confession, in his own words and written on the run for an infant daughter he has never seen. To the authorities, this son of dirt-poor Irish immigrants was a born thief and, ultimately, a cold-blooded murderer; to most other Australians, he was a scapegoat and patriot persecuted by “English” landlords and their agents.

With his brothers and two friends, Kelly eluded a massive police manhunt for twenty months, living by his wits and strong heart, supplementing his bushwhacking skills with ingenious bank robberies while enjoying the support of most everyone not in…[more]

Book:The Years with Laura Díaz

The Years with Laura Díaz: A Novel

Carlos Fuentes, Alfred MacAdam

In this radiant hope-filled new novel, Carlos Fuentes gives us a richly painted portrait of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of Laura Díaz—a woman who becomes as much a part of our history as of the Mexican history she observes and helps to create. Filled with brilliantly colored scenes and heartbreaking dramas, the epic story of The Years with Laura Díaz is also a novel of subtle and penetrating psychological insight.

As in Fuentes’s masterpiece The Death of Artemio Cruz, the action begins in the state of Veracruz and then moves to Mexico City, tracing a migration during the Revolution and, its aftermath that is an important element in Laura Díaz’s life as well as in Mexico’s history. This extraordinary young woman, born in 1898, grows into a devoted wife and mother, becomes the lover of great men , and, before her death in 1972, is celebrated as a politically committed artist on whom none of the poignant…[more]

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