Dublin City Council announces the 2023 Dublin Literary Award Shortlist
Published on 28th March 2023
6 books on the shortlist of the 2023 Dublin Literary Award, the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction
- Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
- The TrEes by Percival Everett
- Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes
- Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp, translated by Jo Heinrich
- Love Novel by Ivana Sajko, translated by Mima Simić
- Em by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman
Meet the 2023 Shortlist - https://youtu.be/AVXF0qUQ9wc
Six novels have been shortlisted for the 2023 Dublin Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council, which awards excellence in world literature. Celebrating 28 years, this award is the world's most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, worth €100,000 to the winner. If the book has been translated the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000. Distinctive among literary prizes, nominations are chosen by librarians and readers from a network of libraries around the world.
The 2023 Award winner will be chosen from a diverse and international shortlist which includes four novels in translation, from Croatian, French, Spanish, and German. The shortlist features authors who are American, Mexican, German, Croatian, and Canadian-Vietnamese.
The 28th winner of the Dublin Literary Award will be announced by its Patron, Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy on Thursday 25th May, as part of International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFD), which is also funded by Dublin City Council.
The shortlisted titles are:
- Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (American). Published by Scribner/4th Estate. Nominated by Katona József Library of Bács-Kiskun County, Hungary. Watch an extract performed by Rex Ryan - https://youtu.be/IJGwaqBA-KE
- The Trees by Percival Everett (American). Published by Graywolf Press (US) and Influx Press (UK). Nominated by Free Library of Philadelphia, USA. Watch an extract performed by Loré Adewusi - https://youtu.be/FIefymnALCE
- Paradais by Fernanda Melchor (Mexican) translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes. Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions. Nominated by Biblioteca Daniel Cosío Villegas, Mexico. Watch an extract performed by Rex Ryan - https://youtu.be/ou9mChzuaVo
- Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp (German) translated from German by Jo Heinrich. Published by Peirene Press. Nominated by Stadtbüchereien Düsseldorf, Germany. Watch an extract performed by Aenne Barr - https://youtu.be/Gh5OjuKMRXQ
- Love Novel by Ivana Sajko (Croatian) translated from Croatian by Mima Simić. Published by V&Q Books. Nominated by Rijeka City Library, Croatia. Watch an extract performed by Ignacy Rybarczyk - https://youtu.be/2i9AyULsdK4
- Em by Kim Thúy (Canadian-Vietnamese) translated from French by Sheila Fischman. Published by Seven Stories Press. Nominated by Hartford Public Library, USA. Watch an extract performed by Eva-Jane Gaffney - https://youtu.be/1ChU_p7w2Hk
Download a collage image of the shortlisted books HERE
Download a collage image of the shortlisted books and authors HERE
Read some thoughts from the judging panel on the shortlist HERE
Lord Mayor of Dublin, Caroline Conroy said
“The titles on this year’s shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Mexico and the USA. The beauty of this award is that it highlights authors and readers worldwide while celebrating excellence in contemporary literature. The 2023 winner will be chosen from this fascinating shortlist, which includes four novels in translation, and covers a myriad of topics including the power of books, racially-inspired hate crimes, relationships, ageing, toxic masculinity, the impact of war, and spans many settings and time periods. “
Dublin City Librarian, Mairead Owens, thanked the libraries around the world who nominated titles this year, featuring a wealth of languages and from a myriad of cultures.
“Selecting six titles from such a strong longlist of 70 books is a challenge and I commend our judging panel for presenting us with such a diverse and interesting shortlist. We look forward to sharing these stories with our readers over the coming weeks and months. I encourage readers to explore the list and choose their favourite book before this year’s Dublin Literary Award winner is announced on 25th May. Happy Reading!”
The international panel of judges who have selected the shortlist and will select the winner, features Gabriel Gbadamosi who is an Irish and Nigerian poet, playwright and critic based in London; Marie Hermet who is a writer and translator who teaches creative writing and translation at the Université Paris Cité; English writer Sarah Moss who is the author of eight novels and now teaches on the MA and MFA in creative writing at UCD; Doireann Ní Ghríofa who is a bilingual poet, essayist and translator from Co. Clare; and Arunava Sinha who translates fiction, non-fiction and poetry from Bengali to English and from English to Bengali and has won several translation awards in India.
The non-voting Chairperson is Professor Chris Morash, the Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing at Trinity College Dublin.
The six member international judging panel, chaired by Prof. Chris Morash, will select one winner, which will be announced by the Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy on Thursday 25th May during the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFD) which runs from the 19th to the 28th May 2023 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.
For further information contact:
Notes for Editors:
Dublin City Council sponsors the Dublin Literary Award which is presented annually for a novel written in English or translated into English. Nominations are made by library systems in major cities throughout the world. Established in 1994, the Award aims to promote excellence in world literature. Designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, Dublin’s literary heritage is a significant driver of cultural tourism for the City.
2023 Dublin Literary Award Judges’ Citations on the shortlisted titles:
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Cloud Cuckoo Land is gloriously wide-ranging, ambitious and seriously playful. We weave between Idaho in 2014, where the sadly realistic story of a troubled teenager with a gun in small town library unfolds, Constantinople under siege in 1452, where an orphaned girl has to make her own way after the nuns who have raised her flee for their lives, and the spaceship Argos in 'Mission Years' 55-64. There are intermissions in 1970s London, 1950s Korea, present-day America. The settings may be kaleidoscopic but the characters are wholly engaging, teenagers negotiating similar questions across the centuries: what knowledge do we need for adult life, how can we survive, live well and be good in times of scarcity? Is it safer to fear or to hope? The novel is rooted in libraries, archives and repositories, returning always to the precious cargos of the written word. Doerr conjures landscapes, cityscapes: one dying eagle, one child inching up a stone tower, and also an army on the march, a mountainside in spring, a walled city defeated. His well-crafted prose wheels the reader across centuries and continents, leaving us in a slightly changed world.
The Trees by Percival Everett
In Trees, Percival Everett uses the genre of comic supernatural crime fiction for what readers eventually realise is a more serious purpose than we might first expect. All of the usual elements of the genre are here: a series of grisly crimes, a pair of wise-cracking detectives, and a mysterious old lady who lives on the edge of town. The town, in this case, is Money, Mississippi (or, more precisely, the nearby suburb of Small Change), where two horribly mutilated bodies have turned up – one White, one Black. When the body of the deceased Black man disappears from the local morgue, only to reappear inexplicably at another murder scene, we may think that we are in familiar territory for horror fiction. It is not until we realise that the two dead White men are descendants of the men who lynched Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African American who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955, that Everett’s more serious purpose starts to become apparent. Ultimately, The Trees emerges as a passionate and unremitting novel about the legacy of racially-inspired hate crimes in the United States, extending beyond African-Americans to Chinese-Americans and Native Americans. Seldom has a writer turned the disturbing power of horror and supernatural fiction to such an urgent purpose than in this compelling novel.
Paradais by Ferdnanda Melchor
Polo works as an aide-gardener in Paradise, a luxury housing complex in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. A 16 year-old dropout, “dark-skinned and ugly as sin, his mother would say” he cannot pronounce the name of the place: it’s Paradais, not Pa-ra-dee-sey, says his boss. The rich residents, and those who, like Polo, cater to their needs, all have their eyes riveted on the American neighbour. Polo hates his job, but it’s still better than the prospect of going home to his mother. Drinking sessions with Franco, who lives in one of the overpriced homes, are his only available means of escape. Franco may be sex-obsessed and equally ugly but he can swipe real American whiskey from his grandparents, and Polo won’t miss a chance to get wasted. He’ll even facilitate Franco’s sick ploy to assault Senora Marian, a sexy mother-of-two who lives in one of the white villas. Why not? “If he had the chance to go inside the Maronos’s house like fatboy did, he wouldn’t waste it looking at panties (…) he would swipe the jewelry and watches, the consoles and screens…” In fevered, snaking sentences, Fernanda Melchor adopts the point of view of the perpetrators, their compulsive desire for whatever they cannot have. From the first page we know, even when we’d rather not – where it’s all heading, but Melchor’s prose is so mesmerizing that I dare you to let go of the book before its very end.
Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp
“Man shall not live by feet alone.” This funny, thoughtful, heartfelt portrayal of a community is observed through the unusual perspective of the chiropodist kneeling at its feet. Our narrator is a woman who finds her career as a writer faltering, and decides to switch profession. “The middle years, when you're neither young nor old,” she reflects, “are fuzzy years. You can no longer see the shore you started from, but you can't yet get a clear enough view of the shore you're heading for. You spend these years thrashing about in the middle of a big lake, out of breath, flagging from the tedium of swimming…” and so she turns to a new role as chiropodist in Marzahn, Berlin, where she finds herself listening intently to her clients. In these ostensibly mundane moments of care and conversation, she discovers that they each reveal something of themselves, their disappointments, their loves, their vulnerabilities, their rages, their joys. A sequence of portraits unfolds, in which each person who sits in the chiropodist’s chair is evoked with a gentle tenderness. As the novel progresses, we meet character after character as the narrator does, through their feet, and through this slow, deliberate culmination of vignettes, nimbly translated by Jo Heinrich, a greater portrait is achieved, that of how individuals are inevitably shaped by the ever-turning cogs of the machine of history. Readers, you’ve never read a book like this; expect to find yourself laughing aloud one moment, and deeply moved the next.
Love Novel by Ivana Sajko
"He thinks of his wife with the smooth ball under her red coat, throwing away the portable TV she thought was responsible for their communication breakdown. At least that’s how she phrased it. After pointing out that him watching the evening news on three different channels in a row had nothing to do with being better informed and everything to do with wanting to escape from what was going on, mostly from her and the ball under her coat, she’d pulled the cord out of the socket, lifted the set up against her stomach and carried it out." An actor at what seems to be a dead-end, a frustrated scholar and novelist, and their newly-arrived baby sear every page and every paragraph and every sentence of Ivana Sajko's Love Novel, translated from the Croatian by Mima Simić. 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.
This recklessly intense and yet imaginative novel turns the hard-up couple’s mutual antipathy into an epic series of confrontations. It gloriously marries sociopolitical commentary on failed capitalism in a failed state to the inevitability of failed marriage, locating the narrative in an extraordinary violence of mind and body.
Love Novel goes ruthlessly into how love, be it ever so intense at the beginning—before the novel begins—in fact, disintegrates for this couple. Matching form with content, it depicts lives that involve walking constantly on tightropes with a ferocity of prose that allows no breathing space, consummately conveying the claustrophobic existence of the characters as external as well as personal circumstances close in on them.
Em by Kim Thúy
Em is a novel about love and war by Kim Thúy, a Vietnamese refugee writer in French-speaking Canada. It is an attempt to salvage something human from what the Vietnamese called the American war. And it is possible to read the book in several ways. As a novel, it reads like a personal essay, its writing precise and its stories provisional as it pieces together fragments of human lives lost on all sides of the conflict. On the other hand, it reads like an epic odyssey through the storms of war in less than 150 pages. The reader is introduced to the war’s impact through stories of interlinked characters, clinging together through instinct, each in their own circle of hell. 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. What does sustain us in the journey of the book is the creative insight, empathy and imagination of a survivor turning back in witness, on what the Americans called the Vietnam war. A favourite character is the street orphan, Louis, so named because he came out black like Louis Armstrong. Alone in Saigon, he learns to survive by seeing into the heart of anyone he meets. Hiding beneath pews in Saigon’s Catholic cathedral, he sees that the most powerful woman in South Vietnam has the claws of a dragon.
Previous DUBLIN Literary Award winners:
2022: The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter (French), translated by Frank Wynne
2021: Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Mexican)
2020: Milkman by Anna Burns (Irish)
2019: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (American)
2018: Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Irish)
2017: A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angolan), translated by Daniel Hahn
2016: Family Life by Akhil Sharma (American)
2015: Harvest by Jim Crace (British)
2014: The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombian), translated by Anne McLean
2013: City of Bohane by Kevin Barry (Irish)
2012: Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor (British)
2011: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Irish)
2010: The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (Dutch), translated by David Colmer
2009: Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas (American)
2008: De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage (Lebanese / Canadian)
2007: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (Norwegian), translated by Anne Born
2006: The Master by Colm Toibín (Irish)
2005: The Known World by Edward P. Jones (American)
2004: This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Moroccan) translated by Linda Coverdale
2003: My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (Turkish) translated by Erdag M. Göknar
2002: Atomised by Michel Houellebecq (French), translated by Frank Wynne
2001: No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod (Canadian) | Alistair MacLeod sadly passed in 2014
2000: Wide Open by Nicola Barker (English)
1999: Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller (English)
1998: The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller (Romanian), translated from German by Michael Hofmann
1997: A Heart So White by Javier Marías (Spanish), translated by Margaret Jull Costa
1996: Remembering Babylon by David Malouf (Australian)