[The JRB Daily] Women dominate the shortlist for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award—the world’s richest annual literary prize

The ten-novel shortlist for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award has been revealed.

The shortlist includes Milkman, the Booker Prize-winning novel by Irish author Anna Burns; An American Marriage, the Women’s Prize for Fiction-winning novel by American author Tayari Jones; Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Nobel Prize-winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, and features three works of translation. The writers, eight of whom are women, are from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The award is organised by Dublin City Council, with nominations being submitted by library systems in major cities throughout the world.

The novels on this year’s shortlist were nominated by public libraries in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the USA.

Twelve African writers named on the longlist this year, which was made up of 156 books in total, but none have made the shortlist.

Esi Edugyan, a Canadian author of Ghanaian heritage, has been shortlisted for her novel Washington Black.

The International Dublin Literary Award is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, worth €100,000 (about R1.9 million) to the winner. If the book has been translated the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

The winner will be announced by award patron Lord Mayor Hazel Chu on Thursday 22 October, 2020, as part of International Literature Festival Dublin.

2020 International Dublin Literary Award shortlist

  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (British)
  • Milkman by Anna Burns (Irish)
  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi (Iranian-French) (translated from the French by Tina Kover)
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Canadian)
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (American)
  • History of Violence by Édouard Louis (French) (translated from the French by Lorin Stein)
  • The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (American)
  • There There by Tommy Orange (Native American)
  • All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy (Indian)
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Polish) (translated by from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)

The award announcement says of the list:

‘Memorable characters tell stories of identity and displacement, violence and war, hope and humanity, love and loss, family and relationships, incarceration and racism, justice and tradition set in both familiar and unfamiliar countries and cultures.’

Both the shortlist and the eventual winner are selected by an international panel of judges. This year’s six-member panel is chaired by Chris Morash, and includes Niall MacMonagle, Zoë Strachan, Yannick Garcia, Cathy Rentzenbrink and Shreela Ghosh.

Chu commented:

‘Looking at this fantastic list of books makes me so excited about our Literary Award this year. It’s more important than ever that Dublin City Council does its best to support the Arts in such challenging times and the International Dublin Literary Award is a huge statement of encouragement for writers.

‘In October, we’ll find out which of these talented authors will receive €100,000 from the city but in the meantime I urge everyone to read as many of the ten as you can. Borrow them from your local library countrywide. And the very best of luck to them all!’

The winner of the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award was American author Emily Ruskovich, for her novel Idaho. Remarkably, the then-thirty-three-year-old’s debut novel was put forward for the prize by just one library: a branch in Bruges, Belgium.

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