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.
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .