Over the past 28 years the Dublin Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council, has been finding its niche in the crowded world of literary prizes, short-listing a mixture of novels originally written in English and those in translation.

With initial nominations drawn from libraries around the world, and given the inclusion of work in translation, the prize tends to bring to the attention of Irish readers some books that they mightn't come across otherwise. The short-listed books are also freely available in public libraries around the country.

The prize money is substantial at €100,000 and if the winning novel is in translation, €25,000 of that sum is awarded to the translator.

This year's shortlist has a particularly international flavour. There are no Irish or British authors on the list, two are American and the others are German, Croatian, Mexican and Vietnamese-Canadian.

'Em', by Canadian-Vietnamese writer Kim Thúy is a slim volume that carries a lot of weight. Delicately written, it looks at the countless lives affected by the Vietnam War - or, as the author dryly points out, the war referred to in Vietnam as the "American War".

At the heart of the book are two young people, Emma Jade and Louis who are orphaned by the conflict, and interwoven with their story is the history of Vietnam and its relationship with the wider world.

The DLA judges said: "The imaginative and creative task of the book is to allow us to pass through these experiences and emerge with a semblance of hope, or at least some of the pain of love."

'The Trees' by US author Percival Everett was also previously longlisted for the Booker prize and is my favourite of this year's Dublin bunch.

The novel tells the story of a series of murders in the small town of Money, Mississippi, which is populated by dysfunctional white characters.

Two black officers arrive to investigate the violent crimes and what transpires is a satirical and ultimate shocking look at racial politics and recent American history.

Money Mississippi is in fact a real place where, in 1955, a black teenager, 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched after being accused by a white woman of making suggestive remarks.

'The Trees' is a novel that defies categorisation, combining satire, crime fiction and horror to produce an uncomfortable but compelling read.

The judges said: "Seldom has a writer turned the disturbing power of horror and supernatural fiction to such an urgent purpose than in this compelling novel."

Described as a look at the "war between kitchen and bedroom", 'Love Novel' by Ivana Sajko is a fast paced, claustrophobic novel rooted in the days of early parenthood. The couple in question are under severe pressure, a situation exacerbated by cramped living conditions and a lack of financial security.

Although there have been many books published recently about the stress of early motherhood, this novel also looks at the father’s situation and in rapid fire prose conveys the fatigue and frustration of early parenthood.

The judges verdict: "Sajko takes no prisoners in her uncompromising and unrelenting story of what goes on between the unnamed couple in a city where the 'system' can grind anyone into a state of despair and panic."

Anthony Doerr is probably the name most familiar to Irish authors on this year's Dublin list as his 2014 novel 'All the Light We Cannot See' was an international best seller.

'Cloud Cuckoo Land' is somewhat different in tone and crosses time and space to bring us stories from locations including Constantinople in 1453 and present day Idaho, with Greek mythology as a unifying theme. The book is also a tribute to readers and libraries which would make it a fitting winner of the award.

The DLA judges described it as "gloriously wide-ranging, ambitious and seriously playful".

'Marzahn, Mon Amour' by Katya Oskamp is a genuinely original novel about a middle-aged writer who turns to a new career in chiropody. I don't think I've ever read a novel about a chiropodist before but this device allows the author to introduce a wide range of characters, many at their most vulnerable.

What emerges is a surprisingly tender, warm hearted book and a touching portrayal of a community - and its feet!

The DLA judges said: "This funny, thoughtful, heartfelt portrayal of a community is observed through the unusual perspective of the chiropodist kneeling at its feet."

Fernanda Melchor was previously shortlisted for this award for the book 'Hurricane Season'. In this novel, 'Paradais', we meet Polo, a 16-year-old gardener in a gated community in Mexico who forms an uneasy friendship with resident Franco.

This is a dark, violent, at times chaotic book with Melchor pulling no punches in her depiction of modern day Mexico.

The judges said: "From the first page we know, even when we'd rather not – where it’s all heading, but Melchor’s prose is so mesmerising that I dare you to let go of the book before its very end."

The Dublin Literary Award's six member international judging panel, chaired by Professor Chris Morash, will select one winner, which will be announced by Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy, on Thursday 25 May during the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFD) which runs from 19 May to 28 May in Merrion Square.

The novels nominated and shortlisted for the award will be available for readers to borrow from Dublin City libraries and from public libraries around Ireland, or can be borrowed as eBooks and some as eAudiobooks on the free Borrowbox app, available to all public library users.

The shortlist can be viewed on the award website at www.dublinliteraryaward.ie.