The winner of the 2014 International Impac Dublin Literary Award  will be announced on Thursday morning, June 12, at 11.00am. RTÉ Ten rounds up the ten nominees. 

The €100,000 prize is awarded to the author if the book is written in English. If the winning book is in English translation, the author receives €75,000 and the translator, €25,000.

The winner also receives a trophy provided by Dublin City Council. Nominations are submitted by public libraries worldwide.

This year’s short-list includes five novels in translation from Argentina, Colombia, France, Norway, and The Netherlands and novels from Australia, Ireland, Malaysia, the UK and the USA.

The ten shortlisted books are as follows:

Absolution by Patrick Flanery;

The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker; 

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser;

A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgard;

Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye;

Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman;

The Light of Amsterdam by David Park;

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan; 

The Garden of Evening Mists by Twan Eng Tan;

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez.

Absolution by Patrick Flanery   

Sam Leroux has returned to South Africa to write Clare Wald’s biography. Wald is a world-renowned author and mother who must answer if she was complicit in crimes lurking in South Africa’s past. Is she an accomplice or a victim? Are her crimes against her family real or imagined?

Librarian’s Comments:

An eloquently written book, enriched by many points of view, from the apartheid era, and later South Africa. Raises many questions and has no solutions. Much to ponder in this rich book.

The Detour Gerbrand Bakker 

Translated from the original Dutch by David Colmer. A Dutch woman who says her name is Emilie rents a remote farm in rural Wales. A lecturer, she has recently confessed to an affair with one of her students. In Amsterdam, her husband hires a detective who agrees to help trace his wife. Back on the farm, a young man out walking with his dog injures himself and stays the night, then ends up staying longer. Bakker is a previous winner of the IMPAC Literary Award with his novel, The Twin. You couldn’t rule out the possibility of his winning again, he is a critics’ favourite, certainly in Ireland and the UK.

Librarian’s Comments: 

"Gerbrand Bakker has made the territories of isolation, inner turmoil and the solace offered by the world his own."

Questions of Travel  Michelle de Kretser

Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka. Around these two characters, a  humorous story unfolds. Short listed for a number of major Australian literary awards. Critics – at least in the UK and Ireland - enthused about this book.


Conveyed through two very different perspectives, Michelle de Kretser’s double narrative traverses the world through three decades, exploring the changing nature of travel and tourism  . .. Rich in description, this expansive narrative’s vivid settings leap from the page.

A Death in the Family:  My Struggle Book 1

Karl Ove Knausgaard   

The first of the six books in Knausgaard’s My Struggle cycle. Translated from the original Norwegian by Don Bartlett, this one explores the writer’s childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving mother and and unpredictable father, and his  grief on his father’s death. When Karl Ove becomes a father himself, he must care for a young family.

Librarian’s comments

This book describes a man’s struggle as a family man and in life itself. He records his daily life with so much honesty, that it is painful to read.. ... This is a true story promoted as a novel and the language makes the reality an interesting read .

Three Strong Women Marie NDiaye   

Translated from the original French by John Fletcher. Forty-year-old Norah leaves Paris, her family and her career as a lawyer to visit her father in Dakar. She is asked to help get her brother out of prison. Ultimately the trip endangers her marriage and her relationship with her daughter. Also, Fanta leaves Dakar to follow her husband Rudy to rural France where she stagnates with boredom . Meanwhile, the third of the strong women, Khady, is forced into exile from Senegal, because her husband is dead. Winner of the 2009 Goncourt Prize.

Librarians’ Comments:

Each of the lives of the “three strong women”, is divided between Africa and Europe. Their stories are fascinating, intriguing and heartbreaking at the same time.

Traveller of the Century Andrés Neuman   

Translated from the original Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia. A traveller stops off for the night in the mysterious city of Wandernburg. He intends to leave the following day, but falls in love with Sophie. The setting is post-Napoleonic Europe.  Much-garlanded author, so he could be in with a chance.

Librarian’s Comments:

Andrés Neuman has had his work translated into English, French and Polish. He was awarded the Qwerty Prize for best book of fiction in the Spanish language and the Foundation Books & Letters Award for best book of fiction. He also received the 2011 Alfaguara Award, the Roger Caillois prize in 2012 and was a finalist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK.

The Light of Amsterdam David Park   

Three sets of Belfast people make their way to Amsterdam. Alan, a university art teacher, goes on a pilgrimage to the city of his youth with troubled teenage son Jack; middle-aged garden centre proprietors  Marion and Richard celebrate Marion’s birthday; and Karen, a single mother, joins her daughter’s hen party. As these people’s lives mingle and overlap, they encounter the complexities of love. Popular with the crtics and it would seem a strong contender.

Librarian’s Comments:

A profound and poignant novel about pilgrimages, human relationships, generation gaps, and the past, present and future.

The Spinning Heart Donal Ryan   

The fallout of Ireland’s financial collapse provokes dangerous tensions in a small Irish town. As the consequences of greed affect an entire community, a drama of kidnap and murder unfolds. Nominated by Cork City Libraries and Dublin City Public Libraries and definitely in with a loud shout. The critics adored this relatively short novel.

Librarian’s Comments:

A very impressive debut novel from a natural storyteller. A perceptive exploration of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland told with sympathy and passion.

The Garden of Evening Mists Twan Eng Tan   

Malaya, 1949. Yun Ling Teoh, lone survivor of a Japanese wartime camp, returns to Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. She discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its creator Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur. Yun Ling’s story of how she survived the war becomes the main focus. The critics enthused about this book which was widely reviewed in English language media sources.

Librarian’s Comments:

Tan’s layered story … also reminds one of the extraordinary pain that ordinary people endure while confirming that “emotional wars” and “emotional imprisonments” are often worse than physical wars and prisons. This is a highly recommended read.

The Sound of Things Falling Juan Gabriel Vásquez   

Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean.  Antonio Yammara realises that ex-pilot Ricardo Laverde, whom he meets in a seedy billiard hall, has a secret. One day Ricardo receives a mysterious, unmarked cassette and shortly afterwards, he is shot dead on a street corner. Yammara’s investigation into what happened leads back to the early 1960s, before Colombia became synonymous with the cocaine trade. The critics – and one can include both English and Spanish language critics - revere this Colombian writer. Colm Tóibín and John Banville have individually endorsed his novels. Vásquez is a particularly strong contender.

Librarian’s Comments:

Vásquez was a finalist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK with The Sound of Things Falling. His work has been translated into English, French and Polish. He won the Qwerty Prize for best book of fiction in the Spanish language and the Foundation Books & Letters Award for best book of fiction. He also received the 2011 Alfaguara Award and the Roger Caillois prize in 2012.