Monday 20 November 2017

Gritty novel of violence, vice and Gaelic legend up for €100,000 award

Kevin Barry
Kevin Barry

John Spain Books Editor

Irish writer Kevin Barry is one of 10 shortlisted for this year's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. At €100,000, it is the world's most valuable annual literary prize for a work of fiction published in English.

Already an acclaimed short story writer, the 44-year-old Limerick man has been shortlisted for his debut novel 'City of Bohane'. The book is set 40 years into the future in a ruined city on the west coast of Ireland, a place laid waste by gang violence and vice.

The book blends together aspects of graphic novels and film, music and Gaelic legends in a heady mixture of imagination and linguistic brilliance.

Already a bestseller and now out in paperback, it is likely to be one of the favourites.

"I'm not counting any chickens," Barry said. "It's a difficult time for books and anything that keeps the life of a novel going has to be good. The publicity is important. Winning would be a bonus."

Although this is his first novel, Barry, who now lives in Sligo, has two acclaimed books of short stories, some of which appeared in prestigious magazines such as 'The New Yorker'.

Last year one of his stories won the EFG Bank-Sunday Times short story prize worth £30,000 (€35,000), the most valuable of its kind in the world.

But the competition for the IMPAC is intense, with big names like Michel Houellebecq and Andrew Miller (both previous winners) also on the shortlist.

Only two Irish writers, Colm Toibin and Colum McCann, have previously taken the award, which was launched in 1996.

This year's shortlist was chosen from 154 novels nominated by libraries around the world.

The IMPAC is unique because the nominations come from libraries, thus giving a voice to ordinary readers rather than just academics and critics.

Eight Irish authors were on the longlist of 154 titles, including big names like Sebastian Barry and John Boyne, but only Kevin Barry made the shortlist.

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is managed by Dublin City Libraries, on behalf of Dublin City Council.

Irish Independent

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