By Caroline O'DohertySenior Reporter
Seven Irish novels are in contention for the world’s largest literary prize as the nominations for the International Dublin Literary Awards are revealed.
However, it could be a long journey to the top of the pile, as they are among 150 nominated novels from around the world that will be whittled down to a shortlist next April before the winner is announced in June.
With €100,000 at stake for the winner, the Dublin award is the biggest annual prize of its kind but it is also novel for the way in which nominees are selected as the long list is compiled from the recommendations of the general public through libraries and their members.
Irish contenders include Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, which has already won the prestigious Costa Award and Walter Scott Prize so far this year, and Emma Donoghue’s historical drama, The Wonder.
Catherine Dunne’s The Years That Followed and Eimear MacBride’s The Lesser Bohemians are also included, as are Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent, and All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan.
Nominations for this year’s award came from libraries in 111 cities in 37 countries and include 48 books translated into English from languages as diverse as Korean, Hebrew, Icelandic and Slovenian.
The book that received the most nominations is Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad which had a publicity boost after it made former US president Barack Obama’s summer reading list and Oprah Winfrey’s influential book club.
However, newcomers are giving the established authors a run for their money this year, with 25 of the titles being the work of first-time novelists.
A panel of six judges has been given the task of compiling the shortlist and choosing the overall winner, including Irish poet Vona Groarke and Nicky Harman, co-chair of the Translators Association, and Chinese-British writer and film-maker Xiaolu Guo.
British-Caribbean novelist and playwright Courrtia Newland and writer and lecturer at the University of London Mpalive-Hangson Msiska complete the voting members of the panel, while the non-voting chair is Eugene R Sullivan, Washington-based lawyer, senior federal judge, and author.
Irish writers have fared well in the competition in the past, with Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, and Colm Toibin’s The Master all winning the top prize in the past decade. Last year’s winner was A General Theory of Oblivion by Angolan writer Jose Eduardo Agualusa.
The award is funded by Dublin City Council in recognition of Dublin’s status as a Unesco City of Literature and the role of Ireland’s literary tradition in attracting visitors and students.
Dublin city librarian Margaret Hayes, who co-ordinates the event, said: “This great prize affirms Dublin’s commitment to international writers and translators, to literature and creativity.”
All of the nominated novels are available for readers to borrow from Dublin’s libraries. The list of 150 titles is available on dublinliteraryaward.ie.
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