I don’t keep up with literary prizes, but I always look forward to the announcement of the IMPAC Dublin award, because the nominations come from libraries around the world; any book in any language is eligible so long as there is an English-language translation; and translators are recognized alongside the authors. This year’s shortlist has just been announced, and the finalists are:
The Speed of Light by Javier Cercas (translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean)
The Sweet and Simple Kind by Yasmine Gooneratne
De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage
Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones
Let it be Morning by Sayed Kashua (translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Schlesinger)
The Attack by Yasmina Khadra (translated from the French by John Cullen)
The Woman who Waited by Andrei Makine (translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan)
Winterwood by Patrick McCabe
Notice that three Arab writers have made the cut (Rawi Hage, who is Lebanese; Yasmina Khadra who is Algerian; and Sayed Kashua who is Palestinian) but none of them write in Arabic. Hage lives in Canada and writes in English; Khadra lives in France and writes in French; and Kashua is a citizen of Israel and writes in Hebrew. So few Arabic novels are translated into English that when Arab writers are recognized in international awards, they tend to be those who write in other languages.
The judging panel includes Helon Habila, Patricia Duncker, Aamer Hussein, Eibhlín Evans, and Jose Luis de Juan, and the winner(s) will be announced June 12.