Annal: 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2010.

Book:The Twin

The Twin

Gerbrand Bakker, David Colmer

When his twin brother dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return from university life to take over his brother’s role on the small family farm, resigning himself to spending the rest of his days with his head under a cow.

Thirty years later, Helmer moves his invalid father upstairs to have him out of the way. Soon after, Riet, once engaged to marry Helmer’s twin, appears and asks if she and her troubled eighteen-year-old son could come to live with them on the farm.

Ostensibly a novel about the canals, the green fields, and the unrelenting flatness of the Dutch countryside, The Twin ultimately opens itself to the possibility or impossibility of taking life into one’s own hands. It chronicles a way of life that has resisted modernity and is culturally apart, yet is riven with longing.

Book:The Believers (Zoë Heller)

The Believers: A Novel

Zoë Heller

When radical New York lawyer Joel Litvinoff is felled by a stroke, his wife, Audrey, uncovers a secret that forces her to reexamine everything she thought she knew about their forty-year marriage. Joel’s children will soon have to come to terms with this discovery themselves, but for the meantime, they are struggling with their own dilemmas and doubts.

Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, has found herself drawn into the world of Orthodox Judaism and is now being pressed to make a commitment to that religion. Karla, a devoted social worker hoping to adopt a child with her husband, is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand outside her office. Ne’er-do-well Lenny is living at home, approaching another relapse into heroin addiction.

In the course of battling their own demons—and one another—the Litvinoff clan is called upon to examine long-held…[more]

Book:The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson

An enchanting New York Times and international bestseller and award-winner about life, art, literature, philosophy, culture, class, privilege, and power, seen through the eyes of a 54-year old French concierge and a precocious but troubled 12-year-old girl.

Renée Michel is the 54-year-old concierge of a luxury Paris apartment building. Her exterior (“short, ugly, and plump”) and demeanor (“poor, discreet, and insignificant”) belie her keen, questing mind and profound erudition. Paloma Josse is a 12-year-old genius who behaves as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. She plans to kill herself on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. …[more]

Book:God's Own Country

God's Own Country

Ross Raisin

“Ramblers. Daft sods in pink and green hats. It wasn’t even cold. They moved down the field swing-swaying like a line of drunks, addled with the air and the land, and the smell of manure.” This is the voice of our narrator, Sam Marsdyke, the teenage son of a farmer up on the Yorkshire Moors. He spends his days working the sheep, mending fences, trying to dodge the eye of his brutal, silent father, and most of all, watching the transformation of the farms and villages around him. From the top of the moors he watches the goofy ramblers and the earnest “towns”, the families from York, who are feverishly buying up the farmhouses left empty by bankrupt farmers.

And as he watches, one young daughter of a new family catches his eye. As he falls for the young, sophisticated girl from London, she begins to see him as a means to escape. She wants to rebel against her parents and he wants to fulfil the fantasy…[more]

Book:Home

Home: A Novel

Marilynne Robinson

Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames’s closest friend.

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.

Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton’s most beloved…[more]

Book:In Zodiac Light

In Zodiac Light

Robert Edric

In December 1922, Ivor Gurney, ex-soldier, poet and composer was transferred from Barnwood House Asylum in Gloucester to the City of London Mental Hospital, Dartford. Suffering from increasingly frequent and deepening bouts of ‘Systemized Delusional Insanity’—paranoid schizophrenia—Gurney was to spend the rest of his life there until his death in 1937.

Neglected by the military and by his own family, and abandoned by all but a notable handful of his friends, Gurney descended into the madness and oblivion which he believed had long been waiting to claim him. But for a short period following his arrival at Dartford, there seemed to be those who continued to believe in Gurney’s capabilities. A belief that by having finally found some calm and ease in his life, he might at last achieve the status of a major composer that some considered him capable of becoming.

Few of those now responsible for Gurney, however, had any true idea of what he had endured on the Western Front during almost three years of military service, or of what he had already achieved in both his poetry and his compositions.

Book:Netherland

Netherland: A Novel

Joseph O'Neill

In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, Hans—a banker originally from the Netherlands—finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. Alone and untethered, feeling lost in the country he had come to regard as home, Hans stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. Ramkissoon, a Gatsby-like figure who is part idealist and part operator, introduces Hans to an “other” New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality. Hans is alternately seduced and instructed by Chuck’s particular brand of naivete and chutzpah—by his ability to a hold fast to a sense of American and human possibility in which Hans has come to lose faith. …[more]

Book:Settlement (Christoph Hein)

Settlement: A Novel

Christoph Hein

In “one of the most important German novels of recent years,” (The Times Literary Supplement) a man, a town, and a country wrestle with fifty years of displacement and political upheaval.

Provincial Guldenberg is still reeling from World War II when a flood of German refugees arrives from the east, Bernhard Haber’s family among them. Life is hard enough—Bernhard’s father has lost an arm and his carpenter’s income. But added to this injury comes an accumulation of insults, as the upright town turns hostile toward the newcomers. After a string of mysterious losses—from the killing of the boy’s dog to the unexplained death of his father—Bernhard is set on extracting revenge.

Rich with psychological insight, Christoph Hein’s acclaimed novel tells Bernhard’s story across nearly fifty years, chronicling his remarkable rise from victimized outsider to Guldenberg’s most prominent burgher. What began as a geographic dislocation…[more]

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