Awards Round-up (4): Shortlists for the IMPAC and Orange Prizes

Shortlists for both the International IMPAC  Dublin Literary Award and the Orange Prize were announced on April 12, 2011.

First, the IMPAC.  The books on the shortlist are:

  • Galore by Michael Crummey (Canadian). Doubleday Canada
  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (American). Faber & Faber, HarperCollins, USA
  • The Vagrants by Yiyun Li (Chinese / American) Random House, USA
  • Ransom by David Malouf (Australian) Random House Australia
  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Irish) Bloomsbury, UK, Random House, USA
  • Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates (American) Ecco Press, USA
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Australian) Allen & Unwin
  • Brooklyn by Colm Toibín (Irish) Viking UK, Scribner, USA
  • Love and Summer by William Trevor (Irish) Viking, UK
  • After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice by Evie Wyld (Australian) Pantheon Books, USA

Well, this shortlist is a bit shocking and quite un-IMPAC like.  I really, really like the IMPAC award scheme.  Libraries around the world are the ones who nominate books and its longlist is typically huge and filled with books and authors from all over the world.  As such, the IMPAC has been a good resource for translated fiction, and also for new or lesser known authors.  This shortlist is dominated by authors from Ireland, Australia and America.  Six out of the ten authors are quite well-known.  And there isn’t a translated book on the list.  All nominated books were originally written in English.  Can I say how unacceptable this is?  I’m sure all the books deserve to  be on the shortlist.  In fact, there are books on the list (Ransom, Brooklyn and The Vagrants) that are on my wishlist.  Some of the authors are favorites of mine.  But really! In previous years, judges have overlooked big name authors with their well-written books in favor of lesser known authors with well-written books.  That how I discovered Edward P. Jones when The Known World won in 2005.  That year, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gunter Grass, Per Petterson and Colm McCann were on the longlist.  Shoot, I heard of Per Petterson through the IMPAC.  Are we to believe that none of the translated works were good enough to make the shortlist? There were 42 translated titles out of a total of 162 books on the longlist.  Some of the translated authors on the longlist include Jean Echenoz, Hélène Cixous, Dubravka Ugresic, Amos Oz , Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Javier Marias, Per Petterson, Alain Mabanckou and Orhan Pamuk.   Someone tell me how this year’s award differs from the Commonwealth Writers Prize save for the inclusion of American authors. Oh, and if we are going for big name books/authors then why not include longlist-nominated Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell and The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt.  Given the IMPAC’s history, I always overlook the big name books whenever the longlist is released.  Obviously, I was wrong to do that with this year’s list.  What the hell is going on in Dublin? I hope the nature of this year’s shortlist does not signal a move from translated fiction and, from what has traditionally made IMPAC a wonderful award scheme for those of us who truly delight in international fiction.  DUBLIN, are you listening?  So, none of the seven African books on the longlist made it to the next round.  My rant notwithstanding, I wish the nominees the best of luck :). The winner will be announced on June 15, 2011.

Well, it’s a relief to look at the books that are on the shortlist for the Orange Prize.  They are:

  • Emma Donoghue (Irish) – Room; Picador; 7th Novel
  • Aminatta Forna (British/Sierra Leonean) – The Memory of Love; Bloomsbury; 2nd Novel
  • Emma Henderson (British) – Grace Williams Says it Loud; Sceptre; 1st Novel
  • Nicole Krauss (American) – Great House; Viking; 3rd Novel
  • Téa Obreht (Serbian/American) – The Tiger’s Wife; Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1st Novel
  • Kathleen Winter (Canadian) – Annabel; Jonathan Cape; 1st Novel

I have not read any of the books on this shortlist.  But from what I can gather among book bloggers, the real surprise is the absence of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.    I’m going to try and read these books.  I’m happy that Aminatta Forna is on the list :).  Good luck to her and the other nominees. The winner of the Orange Prize will announced on June 8, 2011.

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10 comments

  1. I definitely agree with your rant about the IMPAC shortlist. I haven’t followed the awards but from what you say it does sound like a major shift from usual. Also, how could the fantastic Dubravka Ugresic NOT make the short list?! 😉 OK maybe I’m a bit biased toward her works!

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    • Well, how could she not have made the shortlist, is my question also. Certainly, things have gone awry in Dublin. They need to steer their ship back on course and avoid a disaster.

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  2. Mmh I’m a sucker for book awards, but I have not paid much attention to IMPAC. Reading your post I should probably go browse their past winners. I will!

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    • Their list of past winners, shortlists and longlists is such a wealth of information. You are bound to discover new authors from all over the world. I encourage to visit their site and look for yourself.

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  3. When i saw the list i was like ‘ is is a long list? ‘. I get your rants on the issue of exclusion. Sometimes you wonder what it is they want to project with the awards. Regarding the Orange Prize i have read a lot of support for Room. Using my phone to type and Nana is almost taking it away from me. Lol.

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    • Yep, infants do have a fascination with mobile phones because we parents use them so much. I’m really not sure what this new development and this shortlist means for the IMPAC. But I’m hoping this is not a harbinger of what is to come.

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  4. That is a shame about the IMPAC shortlist. So many well-known books that almost seem old compared to other long/shortlists of this time of year.. And I agree that it is limited in its choice of more international fiction.

    As for the Orange shortlist. I have only read Great House and Grace Williams Says it Loud from it. I struggled so much with Grace. I’ve seen it on a number of shortlists, but I personally would not have chosen it out of all the titles on the longlist to be included in the shortlist. But then again, I am no expert. I’m just curious to hear why all of these were chosen. I should probably look at a press release or something 🙂

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    • I’m yet to read the Orange Prize shortlist. Yes, because of the IMPAC’s rules, mostly drawn up to accommodate translated books, it does seem that their well-known books are yesterday’s news. I do hope this is not a future trend.

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