The shortlist was announced this morning for the Impac award. Always a good shortlist, I don't however always agree with the winner. Ah well you can't agree with everyone. This year by far my favourite on the list from those I have read is Andrew Miller's Pure. Ostensibly the story of the removal of the bodies and bones from Les Innocents sinking and decaying graveyard in Paris and moving them to the catacombs, it is a very good story, is interesting and most important of all, is well written. Pure has already won the Costa Book Award so maybe it would be nice if another was brought to the public's attention, but this is my fave anyway.
Michael Houellebecq won the Impac prize in 2002 with Atomised. Houellebecq's writing tends to divide people and they love him or hate him. Haruki Murakami is a very original writer. 1Q84 is one of those books that many say they plan to read but the size has put hem off. Sold as Books 1and2, and Book 3, it amounts to over 1200 pages.
Swamplandia received much attention in Russell's native US. Her debut, it was listed for the 2012 Pulitzer but famously none was awarded that year. An imaginative story set in a gator-wrestling theme park it is either thoroughly enjoyed for its' imaginative originality or dismissed as a bit silly. City of Bohane is the only shortlisted novel by an Irish author. A debut novel for Kevin Barry after his short story collection There are Little Kingdoms, this is a great achievement for Barry and one that will draw his name into the spotlight for the reading public. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka has as its basis the fascinating story of the 'picture brides' brought to the US from Japan in the early 1900s. Her second novel, this has already won the Pen/Faulkner award.
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Philips, an American author, is a clever story. It's hero, a novelist called Arthur Philips (!) receives a gift from his dying imprisoned con artist father of a previously unpublished Shakespeare play The Tragedy of Arthur. His fifth novel, Phillips is a smart writer. From the Mouth of the Whale by Icelandic author, poet and musician Sjón, drew attention when it was shortlisted for the Guardian Foreign Fiction prize. His second novel, this book recounts the thoughts of a healer banished to an island for his heretical conduct. Translated from Norwegian, The Faster I Walk The Straighter I Am is Kjertsi A. Skomsvold's debut novel.Already winner of a Norwegian Debutant prize, this is a book that addresses old age and what we have done with our life, and in the protagonists case, what she has to do before her life runs out.
The final novel, Caesarion, by the Dutch writer Tommy Wieringo, goes back to Caesar's offspring with Cleopatra abandoned by his father. This pattern of abandonment is repeated in a contemporary setting and the novel goes on to address parenthood from the parent's perspective and the child's. This is Wieringo's third novel.
Good luck to the ten novelists selected from 154 - a mighty task for the judges.