US author Emily Ruskovich wins Dublin Literary Award for debut novel

Emily Ruskovich at the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award ceremony this evening. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography

American author Emily Ruskovich has won the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award for her debut novel, Idaho.

Ms Ruskovich received the prestigious award at a ceremony at the Mansion House this evening.

She became the fourth author to win the prize which at €100,000 is the world's largest prize for a single novel published in English.

Idaho was chosen from 141 titles that were nominated by libraries in 115 cities across 41 countries.

"I cannot express how grateful I am to be the recipient of this astonishingly generous award," Ms Ruskovich said.

It is difficult to know how to respond to the magnitude of this kindness that has been so suddenly bestowed upon me. I feel shocked. I feel humbled.

The novel tells the story of a mother and father and their two daughters who on a trip to a mountain clearing to collect wood are faced with an unimaginably shocking occurance which will scatter the family in every different direction.

The public library in Brugge, Belgium which nominated Idaho said that the "special debut novel is a real gem because of the atmosphere as well as the special structure of the novel".

Irish author Éilísh Ní Dhuibhne who was a member of the judging panel said: "Ruskovich’s masterful achievement is to narrate with consummate skill the complex series of events covering a time-span of more than fifty years.

"Empathy and love stand next to cruelty and crime. Individual guilt, trauma and pain are looming as large as eventual forgiveness and the ability to live in half-knowledge.

"Ultimately, Idaho evolves into a masterpiece on the redeeming and regenerative potential of music, poetry, literature and art."

Idaho was chosen from a shortlist of 10 novels from France, Ireland, Pakistan, the UK and the USA.

Ms Ruskovich said that she is especially grateful for the award because of how much she admires the other finalists, "authors from all over the world who are all doing such crucial and beautiful work".

"Seeing my name beside theirs when the shortlist was announced—that alone was one of the greatest honours of my career."

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