IMPAC Dublin Long, Long List

I’m on record as not being the biggest fan of literary lists, but there is one that always gets me going: the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award long list, which was announced on November 2. At €100,000, it’s the largest exiting prize for a single work of fiction, and the list is always, at the very least, eclectic. Nominees are chosen by librarians from around the world, open to any novel published or translated into English in the past two years. So what you end up with is a very long list of Books Librarians Like, one that cuts a huge swath across genre lines, author politics, and geographical boundaries. What’s not to like about that?

I find that kind of sprawl brings out the Bill James in me, and I can’t resist the lure of copying the list into Excel and playing with the stats. There are 50 women authors out of 165; 38 titles are translations. I’ve read exactly half as many as I own but haven’t yet gotten to. There are surprising inclusions and surprising exclusions and, until it was caught, at least one embarrassing mistake. Someone with more time on their hands could probably set up a nice pie chart of countries represented, or the proportion of large publishers to indies, or count the first novels, but I have only so much patience for spreadsheets. Still, it’s the kind of list you can project whatever you like onto, and extract whatever trending data suits you.


The Award list is here. It includes book summaries, author bios, publishers, translators, nominating libraries and librarian comments, and a thumbnail, and is fun reading in itself. The short list will be announced in April, and the winner in June, which should give the completists here a good head start on reading… well, some of them.

(The diagram is by Jessica Hagy from her blog Indexed, making sense out of a senseless world in 3×5 format.)


35 Comments to IMPAC Dublin Long, Long List

  1. November 4, 2009 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    My favorite of all the award lists.
    I guess this is where we all weigh in: I own 27 of those, but I’ve yet to read about a half dozen of them. I really need to get going on Blackstrap Hawco.

  2. Kat Warren's Gravatar Kat Warren
    November 4, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    This is my favorite list too; because of the length and because it more directly reflects the taste and choices of actual readers. As for the count, I’ve read 16 and own another 6 on the to-be-read.

  3. nbm's Gravatar nbm
    November 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about ordering up some books from the library — I get the randomest sets when I just wander in (some very good reads among them, but not much of What They Are Reading) — and might use the IMPAC as a guide. Or, possibly, not. I don’t think all the books on it are available in the US, are they? Not that I was planning to read them all. (I’ve read 13 and have one on the shelf.)

  4. November 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Thrilled to see both Roxana Robinson and Andrew Sean Greer on that list.
    I remember reading 8 or 9 from the list…and have probably read and forgotten about half a dozen more.

  5. November 5, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    nbm: I use the IMPAC as a shopping list every year. I’ve encountered some fabulous books I’d never have read, if not for this award.
    It’s uncanny how many I own and have read this year, though. It’s like they made list up from my Amazon account.

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