The immense longlist for the 2009 IMPAC award was announced yesterday. As always with the IMPAC, the list is all over the place and almost too long (146 novels!) to really mean something.
The process for awarding the IMPAC goes on for almost a year, with the shortlist being announced on April 2nd, and the winner on June 11th.
Nominations for the list come from 157 libraries in 117 cities and 41 countries worldwide. On the IMPAC site, there’s a bit about how this longlist breaks down:
“The 156 authors [sic — or 146, it’s hard to keep track] hail from 41 countries. The books span 18 languages, 29 of which are translated from languages such as Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Slovenian and Hebrew. 19 [sic] of them are first novels. These are books that might not otherwise come to the attention of Irish readers”, says Deirdre Ellis-King, Dublin City Librarian. “The spread of languages and the number of books in translation continues to grow”.
Translated authors include Peter Høeg, Jan Echenoz, Lars Saabye Christensen, Laura Restrepo and Haruki Murakami.
Afghan/American writer, Khalid Hosseini is the libraries favorite with 18 nominations for A Thousand Splendid Suns. Divisadero by Australian Michael Ondaatje [sic — maybe they meant this Michael Ondaatje was nominated by 13 libraries and Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach received 10 nominations.
Despite the significant money that comes with this award (€100,000 that is split between author and translator if the book is in translation), I have a hard time paying much attention to this award. It’s cool in theory, but would be better served by having a shorter longlist (you could release a list of all nominated books separately), and a shorter time between events so as to build some momentum for the prize. There should be a word for something like this . . . something brilliant in concept, but fucked in execution.
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .