Annal: 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Results of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in the year 2013.

Book:City of Bohane

City of Bohane

Kevin Barry

A blazingly original, wildly stylish, and pulpy debut novel.

Thirty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises, and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin’ that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say Hartnett’s old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight.

Book:1Q84

1Q84

Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously…[more]

Book:The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic: A Novel

Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka’s long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream. 

Book:Caesarion (Tommy Wieringa)

Caesarion

Tommy Wieringa, Sam Garrett

In the port of Alexandria, a very long time ago, Julius Caesar impregnated and then abandoned Cleopatra. The child of their union—groomed for greatness by his devoted mother but destined for tragedy—was called Caesarion. Little Caesar.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. In our time, another boy, Ludwig, is born in Alexandria and again the father flees the scene of the birth. The boy and his mother are soon obliged to move on. She, Marthe, is stormy, impetuous and vain. She will not rest until she finds their ideal home—which needs to be both dramatic and cheap. And so Ludwig and his mother end up on a clifftop in Suffolk in a house being eaten from the inside by woodworm and eroded from the outside by the waves attacking its foundations. In the hours mother and son spend together preening in front of the dressing-table mirror, a melodramatic intensity is born. But this stormy novel does not develop as you might then predict. Instead it opens out into a page-turning exploration of…[more]
Book:The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am

The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am

Kjersti A. Skomsvold, Kerri A. Pierce

The highly acclaimed debut of one of Norway’s brightest talents.

Mathea Martinsen has never been good at dealing with other people. After a lifetime, her only real accomplishment is her longevity: everyone she reads about in the obituaries has died younger than she is now. Afraid that her life will be over before anyone knows that she lived, Mathea digs out her old wedding dress, bakes some sweet cakes, and heads out into the world—to make her mark. She buries a time capsule out in the yard. (It gets dug up to make room for a flagpole.) She wears her late husband’s watch and hopes people will ask her for the time. (They never do.) Is it really possible for a woman to disappear so completely that the world won’t notice her passing? The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am is a macabre twist on the notion that life “must be lived to the fullest.”

Book:From the Mouth of the Whale

From the Mouth of the Whale

Sjón, Victoria Cribb

The year is 1635. Iceland is a world darkened by superstition, poverty, and cruelty.

Men of science marvel over a unicorn’s horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret, and both books and men are burnt.

Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jonas recalls his gift for curing “female maladies,” his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjoll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children.

Book:The Map and the Territory

The Map and the Territory

Michel Houellebecq, Gavin Bowd

The most celebrated and controversial French novelist of our time delivers a riveting masterpiece about art and money, love and friendship, and fathers and sons.

Artist Jed Martin emerges from a ten-year hiatus with good news. It has nothing to do with his broken boiler, the approach of another lamentably awkward Christmas dinner with his father or the memory of his doomed love affair with the beautiful Olga. It is that, for his new exhibition, he has secured the involvement of none other than celebrated novelist Michel Houellebecq.

The exhibition brings Jed new levels of global fame. But, his boiler is still broken, his ailing father flirts with oblivion and, worst of all, he is contacted by an inspector requiring his help in solving an unspeakable, atrocious and gruesome crime, involving none other than celebrated novelist Michel Houellebecq…

Book:Pure (Andrew Miller)

Pure

Andrew Miller

A year of bones, of grave-dirt, relentless work. Of mummified corpses and chanting priests. A year of rape, suicide, sudden death. Of friendship too. Of desire. Of love…A year unlike any other he has lived.

Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it. At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.

Book:Swamplandia!

Swamplandia!: A Novel

Karen Russell

Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.

Book:The Tragedy of Arthur

The Tragedy of Arthur

Arthur Phillips

The Tragedy of Arthur is an emotional and elaborately constructed tour de force from “one of the best writers in America” (The Washington Post). Its doomed hero is Arthur Phillips, a young novelist struggling with a con artist father who works wonders of deception. Imprisoned for decades and nearing the end of his life, Arthur’s father reveals a treasure he’s kept secret for half a century: The Tragedy of Arthur, a previously unknown play by William Shakespeare. Arthur and his twin sister inherit their father’s mission: to see the manuscript published and acknowledged as the Bard’s last great gift to humanity…unless it’s their father’s last great con. By turns hilarious and haunting, this virtuosic novel, which includes Shakespeare’s (?) lost play in its entirety, brilliantly subverts our notions of truth, fiction, genius, and identity, as the two Arthurs—the novelist and the ancient king—play out their strangely intertwined fates.

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