Librarians select the world's best new novels

The IMPAC Dublin Award asks library systems from various countries to nominate the best new works of fiction.

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    'Absolution' and 'Questions of Travel' are two of the novels that made the shortlist for the IMPAC Dublin Award.
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How do you find the world’s best novel?

Ask librarians – in 39 countries around the world.

That’s the essence behind the IMPAC Dublin Award, a Dublin-based literary award that seeks to find the best new works of fiction from around the globe.

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An initiative of the Dublin City Council, the project asks 110 library systems from 39 countries around the world to nominate best new works of fiction. The prize: €100,000 (around $138,000) and, of course, a good helping of prestige and attention.

The list has been whittled down to 10 finalists, about half of which are books translated from another language. The winner will be announced on June 12, but from our perspective, we already have our prize – a superlative roundup of some of the world’s best titles culled from experts (a.k.a. librarians) around the globe, ripe for the reading.

“This is a list of high quality literature that includes five novels in translation – that is the beauty of this award – readers around the world will find authors both familiar and new on what is a truly international shortlist,” Dublin's Deputy Lord Mayor Councilor Henry Upton, said in an announcement.

The shortlist includes five novels in translation, from Argentina, Colombia, France, Norway, and the Netherlands. Also on the list are English-language titles from the US, Australia, Ireland, and Malaysia.

“This is a truly global shortlist," said Dublin city librarian Margaret Hayes, "stories imagined and inspired by authors and themes from countries as far apart as Australia and Malaysia, on the one side of the globe, and Argentina, Colombia and the USA on the other, with an eclectic selection of European titles in the middle.”

Consider the shortlist, below, a list of guaranteed good reads perfect for evenings of literary globe-trotting:

The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker (Dutch), translated by David Colmer

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser (Sri Lankan / Australian)

Absolution by Patrick Flanery (American)

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Norwegian), translated by Don Bartlett

Three Strong Woman by Marie NDiaye (French), translated by John Fletcher

Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman (Argentinian), translated from the original Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia

The Light of Amsterdam by David Park (Northern Irish)

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (Irish)

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Malaysian)

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombian), translated from the original Spanish by Anne McLean

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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