6 African novels are among 147 titles that have been nominated by libraries worldwide for the €100,000 International DUBLIN Literary Award. The world’s most valuable annual literary prize for a single work of fiction published in English. Nominations include 43 novels in translation with works by 42 American, 23 British, 15 Canadian, 10 Australian, 7 Irish, 6 novels from New Zealand and 4 from The Netherlands.
Organised by Dublin City Council, the 2017 Award was launched today [21st November] by Lord Mayor, Brendan Carr, Patron of the Award, who praised the International DUBLIN Literary Award for its promotion of excellence in world literature as well as for the opportunity to promote Irish writing internationally. ‘Like every year’, he said, ‘readers will find new books and new authors through the Award, and they can pit themselves against the international panel of judges and pick their own favourite novel, before I announce the winner on 21st June next year’.
Libraries in Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Jamaica, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and the USA nominated the African titles for the award. The award was won by Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun in 2004 for his novel This Blinding Absence of Light. A number of African writers have also been shortlisted over the years, Yasmina Khadra and Mahi Binebine (Morocco), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chris Abani (Nigeria), Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda), J.M. Coetzee, Achmat Dangor and André Brink (South Africa).
The African titles on the 2017 longlist are:
A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, (Angola) translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa al Aswany, (Egypt) translated from the Arabic by Russell Harris
Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto, (Mozambique) translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, (Algeria) translated from the French by John Cullen
The African Equation by Yasmina Khadra, (Morocco) translated from the French by Howard Curtis
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)
The 2017 Judging Panel comprises Chris Morash, Seamus Heaney Prof of Irish Writing and Vice Provost of Trinity College Dublin; Ellah Allfrey, OBE critic, broadcaster and editor; Katy Derbyshire, translator, critic and essayist; Kapka Kassabova, poet, novelist and writer and Jaume Subirana, writer, critic and translator. The non-voting Chairperson is Eugene R. Sullivan (USA).
The International DUBLIN Literary Award (formerly known as the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) is managed by Dublin City Council’s library service. Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian, announced that the 147 books eligible for the 2017 award were nominated by libraries in 109 cities and 40 countries worldwide; noting that 43 are titles in translation, spanning 19 languages and 30 are first novels.
Speaking of the global interest in the Award, the City Librarian remarked “This great prize demonstrates Dublin’s international support for contemporary writers and gives tangible expression to Dublin as A City of Words, an active member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, a UNESCO City of Literature. It also brings readers together in an unparalleled international book club connected through their local public libraries.”
Other novels nominated for the 2017 Award include The Sellout by Paul Beatty, winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize; A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, winner of the 2015 Costa Prize; The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, Salt Creekby Lucy Treleor and The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood, finalists for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award.
Among the 43 translated books are novels originally published in Arabic, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Kannada, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Slovene and Turkish. Translated authors include Milan Kundera, Mia Couto and Isabel Allende. As in previous years, translated titles comprise almost one third of the longlist – 29%.
The book that received most nominations this year is Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, chosen by 9 libraries in Australia, Canada, England, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and Spain.
All of the novels nominated for the Award are available for readers to borrow from Dublin’s public libraries. The full list of 147 titles is available on www.dublinliteraryaward.ie. The shortlist will be published on 11th April 2017 and the Lord Mayor will announce the winner on 21st June.
The International DUBLIN Literary Award is presented annually for a novel written in English or translated into English. Nominations are made by library systems in major cities throughout the world. Established in 1994 in partnership with the company IMPAC, the Award is now wholly funded by Dublin City Council. The Award aims to promote excellence in world literature. Designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, Dublin’s literary heritage is a significant driver of cultural tourism for the City.
The award promotes Dublin internationally as a literary destination, as Juan Pablo Villalobos (2016 judging panel) remarked “Dublin is a very literary city and for me as a Mexican writer I was very, very happy to be invited to be a judge because it’s the city of Samuel Beckett, one of my literary heroes, and of James Joyce of course. Obviously world wide Dublin is known as a literary city and I think that this prize is becoming every year more and more important.”