7 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The longlist for the 2012 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award was announced earlier today, and is made up of 147 titles, the full list of which you can find here.

It’s a pretty decent, if wide-ranging, group of books, which includes everything from Paul Auster’s latest to Sofi Oksanen’s Purge to our own Private Lives of Trees by Alejandro Zambra to fricking Freedom. In glancing through this, it’s difficult to figure out which recent books aren’t on the list.

But I think that’s sort of the point at this stage: to provide library patrons and general readers with a list of titles that covers most every interest and aesthetic. You want sci-fi? Try China Mieville’s Kraken. Scandinavian thriller? How about Nesbo’s The Snowman. From a librarian perspective, this sort of makes sense, and provides a solid list for putting together a decent “new titles” shelf.

Personally, I’m too distracted by the continued ugliness of their website to give this as much attention as it might deserve. There are a good number of books on this list that I haven’t heard of, but I’ll be damned if I click through to see what they’re about. I know I’ve been relatively quiet about shitty website design as of late, mainly since some people can’t take a joke, but how hard is it to use the same color scheme and template across a handful of pages? The home page, News page, and list of titles all employ different looks and menus and colors. And this page looks like a seven-year-old’s first attempt at learning HTML. (Note the changing font-sizes. Classic.)

Websites don’t have to be overly flashy to be effective, but seeing that this is one of the richest literary prizes in the world, you’d think they’d drop $10K into putting together a site that doesn’t suck. End rant.

I am looking forward to seeing the shortlist (which will be announced in April 2012), especially since Dubravka Ugresic is one of judges . . . I have a feeling that list will be a pretty cool collection of titles. And a lot easier to process than this overwhelming list of books written by people about things.

12 June 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

As announced yesterday, Michael Thomas has won this year’s International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Man Gone Down (Grove).

Here’s the description from the Grove website:

A beautifully written, insightful, and devastating first novel, Man Gone Down is about a young black father of three in a biracial marriage trying to claim a piece of the American Dream he has bargained on since youth.

On the eve of the unnamed narrator’s thirty-fifth birthday, he finds himself broke, estranged from his white Boston Brahmin wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friend’s six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep his family afloat, four days to try to make some sense of his life. He’s been getting by working
construction jobs though he’s known on the streets as “the professor,” as he was expected to make something out of his life.

Alternating between his past—as a child in inner-city Boston, he was bussed to the suburbs as part of the doomed attempts at integration in the 1970s—and the present in New York City where he is trying mightily to keep his children in private schools, we learn of his mother’s abuses, his father’s abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America.

This is an extraordinary debut. It is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what it’s like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life—and the urge to escape that sentence.

And from the jury:

“We never know his name. But the African-American protagonist of Michael Thomas’ masterful debut, Man Gone Down, will stay with readers for a long time. He lingers because this extraordinary novel comes to us from a writer of enthralling voice and startling insight. Tuned urgently to the way we live now, the winner of the International Dublin IMPAC Prize 2009 is a novel brilliant in its scope and energy, and deeply moving in its human warmth.”

The IMPAC is one of the richest literary awards in the world—Thomas will receive €100,000—and has brought a good deal of success and attention to recent winners, which include Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game, and Colm Tóibín’s The Master.

13 June 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

“The world’s richest literary award” was given out yesterday to the Lebanese-Canadian writer Rawi Hage for De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage.

From The Guardian:

De Niro’s Game is set during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s, its title alluding to the Russian roulette which features in the celebrated Vietnam film drama. In Hage’s novel, the private lives and morals of two young friends are pushed badly out of shape by the relentless stresses and brutality of the conflict raging around them. The judges’ citation, delivered at a ceremony in Dublin’s City Hall earlier, praised De Niro’s Game for its “originality, its power, its lyricism, as well as its humane appeal . . . the work of a major literary talent.”

I doubt this title will blow up the way Out Stealing Horses did, but this should bring a lot of attention to Hage, who sounds like a very interesting writer.

3 April 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

To follow up on last night’s brief post about the IMPAC Shortlist, be sure to check out the coverage at The Millions to find links to reviews of the books and/or interviews with the authors. (I wanted to do something similar, but this post is better than anything I would’ve come up with.)

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This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

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Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .

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Pavane for a Dead Princess
Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-Gyu
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .

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Tram 83
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .

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Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .

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