Annal: 2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2008.

Book:De Niro's Game

De Niro's Game: A Novel

Rawi Hage

In Rawi Hage’s astonishing and unforgettable novel, a famous quote by Camus becomes a touchstone for two young men caught in Lebanon’s civil war. Bassam and George are childhood best friends who have grown to adulthood in wartorn Beirut. Now they must choose their futures: to stay in the city and consolidate power through crime; or to go into exile abroad, alienated from the only existence they have known. Bassam chooses one path: Obsessed with leaving Beirut, he embarks on a series of petty crimes to finance his departure. Meanwhile, George builds his power in the underworld of the city and embraces a life of military service, crime for profit, killing, and drugs.

Told in the voice of Bassam, De Niro’s Game is a beautiful, explosive portrait of a contemporary young man shaped by a lifelong experience of war. …[more]

Book:The Attack

The Attack

Yasmina Khadra

From the bestselling author of The Swallows of Kabul comes this timely and haunting novel that powerfully illuminates the devastating human costs of terrorism.

Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Arab-Israeli surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv. As an admired and respected member of his community, he has carved a space for himself and his wife, Sihem, at the crossroads of two troubled societies. Jaafari’s world is abruptly shattered when Sihem is killed in a suicide bombing.

As evidence mounts that Sihem could have been responsible for the catastrophic bombing, Jaafari begins a tortured search for answers. Faced with the ultimate betrayal, he must find a way to reconcile his cherished memories of his wife with the growing realization that she may have had another life, one that was entirely removed from the comfortable, modern existence that they shared.

Book:Dreams of Speaking

Dreams of Speaking

Gail Jones

“We must talk, Alice Black, about this world of modern things.This buzzing world.”

Alice is entranced by the aesthetics of technology and, in every aeroplane flight, every Xerox machine, every neon sign, sees the poetry of modernity. Mr Sakamoto, a survivor of the atomic bomb, is an expert on Alexander Graham Bell. The pair forge an unlikely friendship as Mr Sakamoto regales Alice with stories of twentieth-century invention. His own knowledge begins to inform her writing, and these two solitary beings become a mutual support for each other a long way from home.

This novel from Man Booker longlisted author Gail Jones is distinguished by its honesty and intelligence. From the boundlessness of space walking to the frustrating constrictions of one person’s daily existence, Dreams of Speaking paints with grace and skill the experience of needing to belong despite wanting to be alone.

Book:Let It Be Morning

Let It Be Morning

Sayed Kashua

In his debut, Dancing Arabs, Sayed Kashua established himself as one of the most daring voices of the Middle East. In his searing new novel, a young Arab journalist returns to his hometown — an Arab village within Israel — where his already vexed sense of belonging is forced to crisis when the village becomes a pawn in the never-ending power struggle that is the Middle East. Hoping to reclaim the simplicity of life among kin, the prodigal son returns home to find that nothing is as he remembers: everything is smaller, the people are petty and provincial. But when Israeli tanks surround the village without warning or explanation, everyone inside is cut off from the outside world. As the situation grows increasingly dire, the village devolves into a Darwinian jungle, where paranoia quickly takes hold and threatens the community’s fragile equilibrium.

With the enduring moral and literary power of Camus and Orwell, Let It Be Morning offers an intimate, eye-opening portrait of the conflicted allegiances of the Israeli Arabs, proving once again that Sayed Kashua is a fearless, prophetic observer of a political and human quagmire that offers no easy answers.

Book:The Speed of Light

The Speed of Light

Javier Cercas, Anne McLean

An aspiring young writer from Spain begins work as a teaching assistant on a Midwestern campus and finds himself sharing an office with Rodney Falk, a taciturn Vietnam veteran of strange ways and few friends. But when Rodney suddenly disappears the narrator becomes obsessed with discovering the secrets of his past. Why do people fear Rodney? What traumatic event happened at My Khe during the war? And, when the narrator’s life takes a terrible twist, is Rodney the only person in the world who can save him?

Book:The Sweet and Simple Kind

The Sweet and Simple Kind

Yasmine Gooneratne

Resonant in its social insights and beautifully written, Yasmine Gooneratne creates a richly imagined world of love, political chicanery and family turmoil in the newly independent Sri Lanka of the 1950s and 60s. As a highly political family attempts to balance language with religion, and privilege with equity, two smart, sassy young women pursue their personal freedoms. The Sweet & Simple Kind enchants us with its combination of authenticity, humour and passion, and haunts us with reminders of what we were and what we might have been.

Book:Winterwood

Winterwood: A Novel

Patrick McCabe

Once, Redmond Hatch was in heaven, married to the lovely Catherine and father to enchanting daughter Immy. But then he took them both to Winterwood. And it would never be the same again…  

In Patrick McCabe’s spellbinding new novel, nothing—and no one—are ever quite what they seem. When Hatch, devoted husband and father, revisits the secluded mountains where he grew up, he meets Auld Pappie Ned. While he claims to be just a harmless local fiddler, a teller of tall tales, Ned sets off a cataclysmic chain of events in Redmond’s life. From the mysterious disappearance of Redmond’s daughter to the reluctant remembrance of a troubled boyhood to secret glimpses into an unstable marriage, everything soon spirals out of control.

Narrated with hypnotic precision and fractured lyricism, Winterwood is a disturbing and unforgettable tale of love, death and identity from a masterful novelist.  

Book:The Woman Who Waited

The Woman Who Waited

Andreï Makine

In the remote Russian village of Mirnoje a woman waits, as she has waited for almost three decades, for the man she loves to return. Near the end of World War II, 19-year-old Boris Koptek leaves the village to join the Russian army, swearing to the 16-year-old love of his life, Vera, that as soon as he returns they will marry. Young Boris, who with his engineering battalion fights his way almost to Berlin, is reported killed in action crossing the Spree River. But Vera refuses to believe he is dead, and each day, all these years later, faithfully awaits his return.

Then one day the narrator arrives in the village, a 26-year-old native of Leningrad who is fascinated by both the still-beautiful woman and her exemplary story, and little by little falls madly in love with her. But how can he compete with a ghost that will not die?

Beautifully, delicately, but always powerfully told, Andre Makine delineates in masterly prose the movements and madness that constitute the dance of pure love.

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