A STORY about a group of heroin-addicted friends on a desolate council estate in Britain has won the 2012 Dublin IMPAC Award. At €100,000, the IMPAC is the most valuable annual literary prize in the world.
The winning novel, 'Even The Dogs', was written by the young British novelist Jon McGregor.
Presenting the award to him in the Mansion House in Dublin last night, the Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague, described the book as "an intimate exploration of life at the edges of society, littered with love, loss, despair and a half-glimpse of redemption".
The novel reveals in close-up detail the lives of homeless addicts as they go about their daily forage for a fix, drink and shelter.
Critics described the book as grotesque and disturbing but praised Mr McGregor for making the addicts human and turning their bleak lives into something ethereal and haunting.
Three very strong books by Irish writers had made it on to the long list for this year's IMPAC: 'Room', by Emma Donoghue, 'Faithful Place', by Tana French and 'Skippy Dies', by Paul Murray -- but none of them made it to the shortlist.
The winning novel beat off competition from 146 other titles, nominated by 162 public libraries from 45 countries. Having the nominations come from libraries makes the IMPAC unique, as it reflects books the public like, rather than just the views of the critics.
'Even The Dogs' is Jon McGregor's third novel.
Other writers on the shortlist this year included the Americans Jennifer Egan and Willy Vlautin and the British novelist Tim Pears.
The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is managed by Dublin City Libraries and is sponsored by IMPAC, an international management consultancy with its European headquarters in Dublin.
Notes on all the novels shortlisted this year can be viewed at www.impacdublinaward.ie.