Guy Dammann writing in The Guardian Wednesday April 2, 2008
Apart from its genuine internationalism, the Impac prize, now in its 13th year, is also
distinguished among book prizes for the size of the purse - at €100,000
(£79,000), the Impac dwarfs most other literary prizes - and for the length of
its longlist, which is unique in being based on nominations from lending
libraries the world over. Once the longlist has been compiled, however, the
lengthy process of drawing up the shortlist follows the more traditional model
of a voting panel, albeit a rigorously international one.
of strong contenders. Neither last year's Booker winner, Kiran Desai, nor
Thomas Pynchon made the cut from a longlist which also included strong
nominations for Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, John Updike, Peter Carey and
Cormac McCarthy. Yesterday's Kiryama prize winner, Lloyd Jones, also failed to
make the shortlist.
titles are international and include war, love, terrorism, politics, religion,
family and murder. Nominated by public libraries in Australia, Canada,
Finland, France, Ireland, Lebanon, Sri Lanka and the USA, they prove that such
a high standard of literature can be read and appreciated by anyone."
The panel of six judges responsible for drawing up the shortlist is drawn from six different
countries. The voting members are Helon Habila (Nigeria), Patricia Duncker
(UK, Jamaica), Aamer Hussein (Pakistan), and Eibhlín Evans (Dublin). The panel
is chaired by the former chief judge of the US Court of Appeals, Eugene R
Sullivan, who has a non-voting role.
In cases where the award is made to a translated book, the translator receives a quarter of the prize fund, the remaining €75,000 going to the author. For translated works to be eligible
for the prize, the translation must have been published during the calendar
year preceding the longlist nomination process (in this case, 2006), and the
original title must have been published during the preceding four years (in
this case, since Jan 1, 2002). Nominations are made by individual libraries
based on assessment of literary merit.
The winner of this year's prize will be announced on June 12.
Last year's prize went to Norwegian Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses.
The Speed of Light by Javier Cercas (Spanish, in translation)
The Sweet and Simple Kind by Yasmine Gooneratne (Sri Lankan) De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage (Lebanese)
Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (Australian)
Let it be Morning by Sayed Kashua (Israeli)
The Attack by Yasmina Khadra (Algerian) in translation
The Woman who Waited by Andrei Makine (Russian) in translation
Winterwood by Patrick McCabe (Irish)