Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2012.
On a cold, quiet day between Christmas and the New Year, a man’s body is found in an abandoned apartment. His friends look on, but they’re dead, too. Their bodies found in squats and sheds and alleyways across the city. Victims of a bad batch of heroin, they’re in the shadows, a chorus keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage as their friend’s body is taken away, examined, investigated, and cremated.
All of their stories are laid out piece by broken piece through a series of fractured narratives. We meet Robert, the deceased, the only alcoholic in a sprawling group of junkies; Danny, just back from uncomfortable holidays with family, who discovers the body and futiley searches for his other friends to share the news of Robert’s death; Laura, Robert’s daughter, who stumbles into the junky’s life when she moves in with her father after years apart; Heather, who has her own place for the first time…[more]
In this multi-award-winning autobiographical novel, Cristovão Tezza draws his readers into the mind of a young father whose son, Felipe, is born with Down syndrome. From the initial shock of diagnosis, and through his growing understanding of the world of hospitals and therapies, Tezza threads the story of his son’s life with his own.
Felipe, who lives in an eternal present, becomes a remarkable young man; for Tezza, however, the story is a settling of accounts with himself and his own limitations and, ultimately, a coming to terms with the sublime ironies and arbitrariness of life. He struggles with the phantom of shame, as if his son’s condition were an indication of his own worth, and yearns for a ‘normal’ world that is always out of reach.
Reading this compelling book is like stumbling through a trap door into the writer’s mind, where nothing is censored,…[more]
Brought up in the Anglo-Welsh borders by an affectionate but alcoholic and feckless mother, Owen Ithell’s sense of self is rooted in his long, vivid visits to his grandparents’ small farm in the hills. There he is deeply impressed by his grandfather’s primitive, cruel relationship with his animals and the land.
As an adult he moves away from the country of his childhood to an English city where he builds a new life, working as a gardener. He meets Mel, they have children. He believes he has found happiness—and love—of a sort.
But following a car accident, in which his daughter is killed and he loses a hand, the course of his life and the lives of those he loves is changed forever. Owen, unable to work, alienated and eventually legally separated from his family, is haunted by suicidal thoughts. In his despair, he resolves to reconnect with both his past and the natural world. Abducting his children,…[more]
Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming—but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.
In Vlautin’s third novel, Lean on Pete, he reveals the lives and choices of American youth like Charley Thompson who were failed by those meant to protect them and who were never allowed the chance to just be a kid.
A high-ranking official in the Israeli secret service is handed a new brief: go undercover as an aspiring novelist to befriend Dauphna, an Israeli writer, and her friend Hanai, a renowned Palestinian poet. The target is Hani’s son Yotam, a wanted terrorist leader. As the undercover agent becomes ingrained in Dauphna and Hani’s lives, his own well-entrneced sense of right and wrong is clouded. The writers have awoken feelings he thought were long dead. Yet his sense of duty and the haits of a lifetime in the military propel the agent to go ahead with his deceptions and lay a trap for Yotam.A spelling binding novel that takes the reason on a tumultuous journey through the conflicted Israeli mind.
When Morris Schutt, a prominent newspaper columnist, surveys his life over the past year, he sees disaster everywhere. His son has just been killed in Afghanistan, and his newspaper has put him on indefinite leave; his psychiatrist wife, Lucille, seems headed for the door; he is strongly attracted to Ursula, the wife of a dairy farmer from Minnesota; and his daughter appears to be having an affair with one of her professors.
What is a thinking man to do but turn to Cicero and Plato and Socrates in search of the truth? Or better still, call one of those discreet “dating services” in search of happiness? But happiness, as Morris discovers, is not that easy to find.
David Bergen’s most accomplished novel yet is an unforgettable story with a vitality and charm and intelligence all its own. Bergen proves once again that he is one of our finest writers, dazzling us with his wit and touching us with his compassion.
Fire Support Base Matterhorn: a fortress carved out of the grey-green mountain jungle. Cold monsoon clouds wreath its mile-high summit, concealing a battery of 105-mm howitzers surrounded by deep bunkers, carefully constructed fields of fire and the 180 marines of Bravo Company. Just three kilometres from Laos and two from North Vietnam, there is no more isolated outpost of America’s increasingly desperate war in Vietnam.
Second Lieutenant Waino Mellas, 19 years old and just a few days into his 13-month tour, has barely arrived at Matterhorn before Bravo Company is ordered to abandon their mountain and sent deep in-country in pursuit of a North Vietnamese Army unit of unknown size.
Beyond the relative safety of the perimeter wire, Mellas will face disease, starvation, leeches, tigers and an almost…[more]
Adrian Lockheart is a psychologist escaping his life in England. Arriving in Freetown in the wake of civil war, he struggles with the intensity of the heat, dirt and dust, and with the secrets this country hides. Despite the gulf of experience and understanding between them, Adrian finds unexpected friendship in a young surgeon at the hospital, the charismatic Kai Mansaray, and begins to build a new life just as Kai makes plans to leave.
In the hospital Adrian encounters an elderly and unwell man, Elias Cole, who is reflecting on his past, not all of it noble. Recorded in a series of notebooks are memories of his youth, the optimism of the first moon landings, and the details of an obsession: Saffia, a woman he loved, and Julius, her fiery, rebellious husband.
As their individual stories entwine across two generations in a country torn apart by repression and war, some distances…[more]
What happens when a mother’s love isn’t enough?
You’re eight years old. An only child. You love your parents, but you’re convinced you’re not enough for your mother because she fosters other people’s kids. You’ve learnt to cope, just about, with how this makes you feel—but then a boy called Robert arrives, and he and your Mum seem to connect in a way you never have. You hate him for it. And her. And one day you do something really bad to teach them both a lesson. At twenty-eight, you return home to face your mother, who is now chronically ill. Despite the intervening years, you haven’t forgiven her—or yourself—for what happened. Ultimately, though, it’s her forgiveness you crave, even after all this time—because you need to know, finally, that you were enough for her.
Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.
We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from…[more]