As a result of today’s announcements, I am now juggling 5 shortlists and as I shall not complete reading any of them before the winners are announced, I shall end up a Jill of all lists, mistress of none. Ah well, perhaps I should learn to specialise.
Let’s start with the most disappointing shortlist of them all. The IMPAC. I don’t want to spend too much time on this – I’m not even going to list it – but what is going on here? How can a longlist of 162 books with 42 books in translation be whittled down to a shortlist of 10 from only 3 countries – and not contain a single translated title, particularly when Michael Hofmann, translation super star, is on the judging panel? This is not to detract from Evie Wyld’s wonderful After The Fire, A Still Small Voice, incidentally the only book on the list I have read. So, if everything else is as good, it may turn out to be more exciting than anticipated. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, even if I abandoned The Lacuna audiobook earlier today – didn’t like the permanent wonderment in the narrator’s voice at all. As a result, however, I’m in no rush to read the book. I do have the entire Irish contingent (McCann, Toibin and Trevor) in the TBR. But I want to discover new names in shortlists and Yiyun Li’s The Vagrants looks like an exciting discovery and for 0.01p on Amazon marketplace, an affordable one.
By contrast, the Orange shortlist is tempting enough to make me want to read it all, though with all that traumatic content, not one after the other and certainly not before the winner is announced.. I’ve read two, Room and Great House, both excellent reads. I have The Memory of Love in the TBR and picked up Grace Williams Says It Loud from the library last night. The remaining two are not available at my library, and as I had a major buying splurge last week, I’m not allowed any more purchases this month (OK, so The Vagrants sneaked in, but that is it. The ban is now in force!).
I need to remember that because when it comes to the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist, of which there are 0 (zero!) available at my library, I am seriously tempted. I’ve read Visitation, the brilliant German contribution – that won’t surprise you – and have Red April in the TBR. But I want to read them all …. patience, Lizzy, patience.
The other fiction in translation shortlist is for the Best Translated Book Award. 1o titles, 1 read (the brilliant Visitation again), 2 in the TBR (the other German title, Doctor Letham, Physician and Murderer, and Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver). Not surprisingly, as this is an American award, none of these books are stocked at my library.
I only became aware of the other shortlist at the weekend when I was listing the multiple awards that Wolf Hall has garnered. These include the inaugural Walter Scott for Historical Fiction award. The 2011 shortlist is another I want to read in full. I have read 2, The Long Song and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. I do not own any of the others but discover they are all available at my library! Phew, I was beginning to think that my relationship with the library was on the rocks.
The library holdings check began earlier today on twitter. To recap – shortlistees available at North Lanarkshire Libraries:
IMPAC: 7 of 10 = 70%
Orange: 3 of 6 = 50%
Independent Foreign Fiction: 0 of 6 = 0 %
Best Translated Book Award (Fiction): 0 of 10 = 0%
Walter Scott Award: 6 of 6 = 100%
Are you in Britain? If so, where and how does your library compare?