I know I’ve been posting a lot about book prizes recently, but I was very intrigued to see the shortlist for this prize posted this week as it’s a really fascinating list and a very special literary award!

The Dublin Literary Award (formerly the IMPAC Award) is unique in many ways. Firstly, it’s an award presented annually by Dublin City Council to a novel written in English or that’s been translated into English. Quite exciting that a major literary award recognizes translated literature! Secondly, the prize is huge totalling €100,000 (if a translated novel wins, the author receives €75,000 and the translator €25,000). Four books on the shortlist are translations so it’s great to know that both author and translator will be rewarded so lucratively if their book wins. Finally, nominations for the award are made by over 400 libraries from major cities all over the world. Yes, librarians make up the nominations for this prize! And they know good books so you know the initial enormous longlist selection is all quality.  

I’ve read four of the ten books on the shortlist. Marlon James’ “A Brief History of Seven Killings” is such an epic, complex novel about several people surrounding an attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Definitely a challenging read, but so worthwhile! It is probably one of the best known on the list as it won the Booker Prize, but I was delighted to be on the panel of judges for the Green Carnation Prize last year where we also selected it as our winner. Mary Costello’s “Academy Street” is a brilliantly compact tale of a woman’s life from her Irish roots to her later years living in NYC. Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation” has such a powerful voice and unique perspective on relationships that it’s a book I often think back on now and then still puzzling over its meaning. “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson was absolutely one of my favorite reads of last year. Its protagonist is so strong-willed, yet vulnerable and someone who fearlessly forges her own identity far from her impoverished beginning in life.

Of the other six titles shortlisted I’m most interested in reading Jenny Erpenbeck’s “The End of Days”, Scholastique Mukasonga’s “Our Lady of the Nile” and Javier Cercas’ “Outlaws”. How about you? Have you read any on the list or are they any you're interested in reading?

The winner is announced on June 9th. 

AuthorEric Karl Anderson