Thursday, May 14, 2015

2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

It's IMPAC Dublin time, friends. Our nominations have once again landed in Ireland in time to be considered for this prestigious literary award. After careful deliberation following a year of furiously reading every new book to cross our paths, we have selected our three favorite notable titles published for the first time in English in 2014. (Because them's the rules.) Special thanks to our committee members for all their diligence and commitment to promoting literature. All three of our choices have been featured on this blog at least once, and in the case of The Blazing World, several times. So if you haven't already read these even after all of our nagging, do it now! But no pressure. Just enjoy.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

"Because survival is insufficient": words tattooed on the arm of Kirsten, a young actress who at 8 years old survived a flu pandemic that killed millions worldwide. Years later she is part of a traveling theatre troupe at the center of this novel about a devastating turning point in human history. While the global pandemic tale is a familiar one, few others capture the human spirit's seemingly instinctual drive to prioritize and preserve art in a post-apocalyptic world. What it costs humanity to remain is not only the physical struggle for survival but the fight for what keeps us culturally connected and spiritually alive.

--Tonya and Natalie--
How to Be Both by Ali Smith

"Art makes nothing happen in a way that makes something happen" is the often tweeted message from George's mysterious mother just before her death. This simplistic tweet sums up the carefully structured novel with two unique stories: a 15th-century Italian artist's life; a modern teen, George, whose mother has a connection to the Renaissance artist. Smith ignores the safety of a linear arrangement to allow the reader to experiment with the story order; either can be read first. It takes a well grounded author to allow for experimental order and Smith's story, characters, intricacies of conflict, are so well formed that the order question becomes almost insignificant. Every page, every choice made by Smith serves as a connective tissue to other literary styles and periods.
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

Harriet Burden is an aging artist, largely ignored and forgotten, who is convinced that were she a man her assemblages would have received the attention and acclaim they deserved. To prove it, she embarks on a trilogy of installations and presents them as the work of three different male artists, who agree to the ruse for their own purposes, with tragic results. The Blazing World itself is an assemblage of disparate materials--journal entries, critical reviews, press releases, correspondence and interviews--collected by an art historian after Harry's death. Hustvedt explores issues of gender, perception and art with piercingly intelligent prose, densely annotated with historically accurate footnotes. But it is Harry herself--her passion and rage and creativity--who is the soul of this book.


And in case you missed it, here is the 2015 shortlist.

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