Kevin Barry flies the home flag on IMPAC shortlist

Kevin Barry

It seems a while ago now since Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane arrived on the bookshelves of your (favourite independent) bookshop, but such are the workings of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award that it has been shortlisted for the 2013 edition.

The prize – at €100,000 one of the richest in literature – takes the somewhat distinctive route of inviting libraries all over the world to put forward their favourite novels for consideration.

Given such breadth it’s perhaps not surprising that the IMPAC Award often recognises novels that have already come through the first flush of publication and awards ceremonies.

City of Bohane, set in a city in the west of Ireland some time in the future, was published in 2011 and made the shortlist for that year’s Costa First Novel Award, while it’s already a year or more since the publication of Barry’s subsequent book, the short story collection Dark Lies The Island.

Some – okay, me – might suggest that Barry’s short stories pack more of a punch than his only novel published to date, but there’s no disputing that City of Bohane was a standout debut, with the reviews from the New York Times and the Guardian containing blurbable phrases such as “extraordinary” and “quite astonishing”.

Interestingly, the outright winner of the Costa Book Award two years ago, Andrew Miller’s Pure, is also on the IMPAC shortlist this time around.

Showcasing the rude health of translated books, half of the list was originally published in another language – The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq (French), 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Japanese), Sjón’s From the Mouth of the Whale (Icelandic), Kjersti Skomsvold’s debut novel The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am and Caesarion by Tommy Wieringa (Dutch).

The shortlist is completed by The Buddha in the Attic by Japanese-American author Julie Otsuka, Karen Russell’s serially eulogised Swamplandia! and The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips.

For more on all those visit the IMPAC Dublin Literary award website. The winner will be announced in Dublin on Thursday, June 6th.

Would you like to join the Irish Writing Blog online book club? The April choice is Strumpet City by James Plunkett – more details here.

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