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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Further into the IMPAC award 

While most places have reported the salient names of the 125-author strong longlist, what interests me is how....stale the list is. For whatever reason, the criteria for the 2004 award is that the book had to have been published between 1 January and 31 December 2002--that's an awfully long lag time between publication and awarding, especially when the Man Booker prize was awarded to a book that was released in the spring of this year, and others that made the longlist hadn't even officially been published at the time. Why is this so? I'm genuinely curious. Is it because the awards committee has to make sure they read every single book published in a calendar year, instead of getting targeted submissions like other awards? I just look at the list and feel like I've moved on considerably since the time most of these novels were first published.

But having said that, it's a varied list, and on the crime fiction side, though naturally sparse (they never learn...) several contenders include Andrea Badenoch's LOVING GEORDIE, Michael Collins' THE RESURRECTIONISTS, Stephen Carter's THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK, Michael Didbin's AND THEN YOU DIE, Carol Goodman's THE LAKE OF DEAD LANGUAGES, Patricia Melo's INFERNO, Chloe Hooper's A CHILD'S BOOK OF TRUE CRIME, and Sarah Waters' FINGERSMITH. Especially good to see Collins (a favorite, as already documented here) and Hooper, the latter having written a debut novel that's very disturbing but quite experimental for a crime novel, as it alternates between a psychological thriller style and a story of murder in allegory with animals starring as the main roles. Somehow, it works, and I hope Hooper, an Australian native, emerges with another book soon.

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