Annal: 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2011.

Book:Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel

Colum McCann

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover…[more]

Book:After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice: A Novel

Evie Wyld

After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank struggles to rebuild his life among the sugarcane and sand dunes that surround his oceanside shack. Forty years earlier, Leon is drafted to serve in Vietnam and finds himself suddenly confronting the same experiences that haunt his war-veteran father. As these two stories weave around each other—each narrated in a voice as tender as it is fierce—we learn what binds Frank and Leon together, and what may end up keeping them apart.

Set in the unforgiving landscape of eastern Australia, Evie Wyld’s accomplished debut tackles the inescapability of the past, the ineffable ties of family, and the wars fought by fathers and sons.

Book:Brooklyn: A Novel

Brooklyn: A Novel

Colm Tóibín

It is Enniscorthy in the southeast of Ireland in the early 1950s. Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who cannot find work at home. Thus when a job is offered in America, it is clear to everyone that she must go. Leaving her family and country, Eilis heads for unfamiliar Brooklyn, and to a crowded boarding house where the landlady’s intense scrutiny and the small jealousies of her fellow residents only deepen her isolation.

Slowly, however, the pain of parting is buried beneath the rhythms of her new life—until she begins to realize that she has found a sort of happiness. As she falls in love, news comes from home that forces her back to Enniscorthy, not to the constrictions of her old life, but to new possibilities which conflict deeply with the life she has left behind in Brooklyn.

In the quiet character of Eilis Lacey, Colm Tóibín has created one of fiction’s most memorable heroines and in Brooklyn, a luminous novel of devastating power. Tóibín demonstrates once again his astonishing range and that he is a true master of nuanced prose, emotional depth, and narrative virtuosity.

Book:Galore

Galore: A Novel

Michael Crummey

Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us. This is Michael Crummey’s most ambitious and accomplished work to date.

An intricate family saga and love story spanning two centuries, Galore is a portrait of the improbable medieval world that was rural Newfoundland, a place almost too harrowing and extravagant to be real. Remote and isolated, exposed to savage extremes of climate and fate, the people of Paradise Deep persist in a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to distinguish.

Propelled by the disputes and alliances, grievances and trade-offs that bind the Sellers and Devine families through generations, Galore is alive with singular characters, and an uncommon insight into the complexities of human nature.

Book:Jasper Jones: A Novel

Jasper Jones: A Novel

Craig Silvey

Charlie Bucktin, a bookish thirteen year old, is startled one summer night by an urgent knock on his bedroom window. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in their small mining town, and he has come to ask for Charlie’s help. Terribly afraid but desperate to impress, Charlie follows him into the night.

Jasper takes him to his secret glade, where Charlie witnesses Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion. He locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

Book:The Lacuna

The Lacuna: A Novel

Barbara Kingsolver

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd…[more]

Book:Little Bird of Heaven

Little Bird of Heaven: A Novel

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates returns with a dark, romantic, and captivating tale, set in the Great Lakes region of upstate New York—the territory of her remarkably successful New York Times bestseller The Gravedigger’s Daughter.

Set in the mythical small city of Sparta, New York, this searing, vividly rendered exploration of the mysterious conjunction of erotic romance and tragic violence in late-twentieth-century America returns to the emotional and geographical terrain of acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates’s previous bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and The Gravedigger’s Daughter.

When a young wife and mother named Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, the Sparta police target two primary suspects, her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her longtime lover, Eddy Diehl. In turn, the Krullers’ son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehl’s daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, each believing the other’s father is guilty. …[more]

Book:Love and Summer

Love and Summer: A Novel

William Trevor

In spare, exquisite prose, master storyteller William Trevor presents a haunting love story about the choices of the heart, and the passions and frustrations of three lives during one long summer. Ellie is a shy orphan girl from the hill country, married to a man whose life has been blighted by an unspeakable tragedy. She lives a quiet life in the Irish village of Rathmoye, until she meets Florian Kilderry, a young photographer preparing to leave Ireland and his past forever. The chance intersection of these two lost souls sets in motion a poignant love affair that requires Ellie to make an impossible choice.

Book:Ransom (David Malouf)

Ransom: A Novel

David Malouf

In his first novel in more than a decade, David Malouf—arguably Australia’s greatest living writer—gives us a stirring reimagination of one of the most famous passages in all of literature: Achilles’ rageful slaughter and desecration of Hector, and Priam’s attempt to ransom his son’s body in Homer’s The Iliad.

A moving novel of suffering, sorrow and redemption, Ransom tells the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles, who has lost his beloved Patroclus in the siege of Troy; and woeful Priam, whose son Hector killed Patroclus and was in turn savaged by Achilles. Each man’s grief must confront the other’s for surcease and resolution: a resolution more compelling to both than the demands of war. For when the wizened father and the vicious murderer of his son meet, “the past and present blend, enemies exchange places, hatred turns to understanding, youth pities age mourning youth.” (Alberto…[more]

Book:The Vagrants (Yiyun Li)

The Vagrants: A Novel

Yiyun Li

In luminous prose, award-winning author Yiyun Li weaves together the lives of unforgettable characters who are forced to make moral choices, and choices for survival, in China in the late 1970s.  

As morning dawns on the provincial city of Muddy River, a spirited young woman, Gu Shan, once a devoted follower of Chairman Mao, has renounced her faith in Communism. Now a political prisoner, she is to be executed for her dissent. While Gu Shan’s distraught mother makes bold decisions, her father begins to retreat into memories. Neither of them imagines that their daughter’s death will have profound and far-reaching effects, in Muddy River and beyond. Among the characters affected are Kai, a beautiful radio announcer who is married to a man from a powerful family; Tong, a lonely seven-year-old boy; and Nini, a hungry young girl. Beijing is being rocked by the Democratic Wall Movement, an anti-Communist groundswell designed to move the country toward a…[more]

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