Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Vasquez celebrates book prize win

Juan Gabriel Vasquez paid tribute to James Joyce.
Juan Gabriel Vasquez paid tribute to James Joyce.

Juan Gabriel Vasquez has won the world's most lucrative book prize for his novel The Sound of Things Falling.

The Colombian writer will take home 100,000 euro (£80,000) after beating off competition from 152 titles entered in the International Impac Dublin Literary Award.

"For me, it's all about the names: the names of writers who have received the award before me and whose work I've admired and looked up to; but particularly the name of James Joyce," he said.

"I have often said that there are two books that made me want to become a writer: One Hundred Years Of Solitude, which I read when I was 16, and Ulysses, which I read three years later.

"I've always felt at home in Dublin and in Irish literature. So in more ways than one, this prize is a sort of homecoming".

The Impac Dublin award is organised by the Irish capital's public library service and the prize is the world's largest for a single novel published in English.

Uniquely, entries are nominated from public libraries in cities around the world with the final winner chosen by a five member international judging panel.

The Sound Of Things Falling was one of five novels on the short-list which was translated into English, with other works in the running by authors in Argentina, France, Norway and The Netherlands.

The judges praised the book as a consummate literary thriller that resonates long after the final page.

"Through a masterly command of layered time periods, spiralling mysteries and a noir palette, it reveals how intimate lives are overshadowed by history; how the past preys on the present; and how the fate of individuals as well as countries is moulded by distant, or covert, events," they said.

The novel was nominated by Biblioteca Cosio Daniel Villegas in Mexico City.

Vasquez, who lived in Europe for 16 years before returning to his native Bogota, is the author of two previous novels, The Informers and The Secret History Of Costaguana.

The first South American author to win the prize in its 19-year history, his books have been published in 15 languages worldwide.

Canadian Anne McLean, who translated The Sound Of Things Falling from Spanish, takes a 25,000 euro share of the winnings, under the rules of the award.

"I love that libraries nominate the books eligible for this prize and that translated novels are considered on an equal footing with books originally written in English," she said.

"The Sound Of Things Falling is a wonderful and important novel and I hope this will mean it can reach even wider readership in the English-speaking world."

Two authors from Ireland were among the 10-strong shortlist, including Donal Ryan for his critically acclaimed The Spinning Heart, which he wrote in his spare time while in a government job in Limerick.

Also in contention was former Belfast school teacher David Park for The Light Of Amsterdam, which opens at the funeral of George Best and develops into a biblical story of cheating before wrapping up at a disappointing Bob Dylan concert in Amsterdam.

Others shortlisted were The Detour translated from Dutch and by the 2010 winner by Gerbrand Bakker; Questions Of Travel by Michelle De Kretser; Absolution, the first book by US writer Patrick Flanery; A Death In The Family by Norway's Karl Ove Knausgaard; Three Strong Women by France's Marie NDiaye; Traveller Of The Century by Andres Neuman from Argentina; and The Garden Of Evening Mists by Malaysian Tan Twan Eng.

The titles on this year's shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Australia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Norway, South Africa and The Netherlands.

Previous winners of the International Impac Dublin Literary Award include Kevin Barry for City Of Bohane, Jon McGregor for Even The Dogs, and Colum McCann for Let The Great World Spin.

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