‘The validation that prizes give is what you really want’

The English novelist Jim Crace has won the 20th Impac Dublin Literary Award, for his novel Harvest. The €100,000 prize is the largest for a novel published in English.

‘The validation that prizes give is what you really want’

Crace, 69, told the Irish Examiner: “I’ve been very lucky with prizes. But the thing about prizes is that, when you talk about a prize-winning author, you can be talking about one that is well-regarded, but doesn’t sell any books. The thing about this prize is that it sells books, it finds readers. For a start, there’s no question at all but that I’ll have a bigger readership in Ireland, which is a dear thing to me.

“For me, that’s the great thing about the prize. I know the money is important, but, actually, the validation of your career that prizes give is what you really want. But the money is fabulous, too,” he said.

Crace saw off competition from a shortlist that included Richard Flanagan’s Second World War novel, The Long Road to the Deep North, and TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann, which surpassed his Impac winner, Let the Great World Spin.

The Impac award invites public libraries in countries around the world to nominate books each year.

The process for 2015 produced a longlist of 142 books, nominated by libraries in 142 cities in 39 countries. The shortlist of 10, whittled down by the award’s judges, was completed by Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Horses of God, by Mahi Binebine; Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent; K, by Bernardo Kucinski; Brief Loves That Live Forever, by Andreï Makine; Someone, by Alice McDermott; and Sparta, by Roxana Robinson.

Though Crace never gives his books precise locations, Harvest evokes Tudor England and the era of land enclosures.

Crace calls himself a “fabulist”, but says his concerns are to speak to the present moment. “Even though the method of Harvest was a historical novel,” he said, “its intentions were that of a modern novel. I’m asking you to think about land being seized in Brazil by soya barons. It’s also a novel about immigration”.

Harvest was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. Crace was awarded a Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, worth $150,000, in 2014.

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