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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Nominations for 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

November 13, 2008

by Suzan Abrams

Here is the eclectic longlist for the 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Since I happen to be on homeground, I should be able to find many of the books easily enough. Last year, Eason and other bookshops held special displays to announce IMPAC's list.

Personally, I feel a little awed to see Dalia Sofer's The Septembers of Shiraz on the longlist as I am presently reading her debut novel and find it worthy of the selection. And I'm also pleased to see that Rajaa Alsanea has made it with her tantalising and very much, Saudi Arabia's banned Girls of Riyadh. And too, one of my favourite novelists; last year's Man Booker Prize winner, Anne Enright nominated for The Gathering with its dark and intricately detailed plot.

Since returning to Dublin from East Africa and subsequently London in July, I had read Rajaa Alsanea, followed by last year's IMPAC shortlist nominees, Yasmina Khadra's The Attack and Sayed Kashua's Let it be Morning with equal succession and interest. My reading journey and soon to be life has never been or will never be the same again.

These books held the power to steer me without realization to a more scholarly aptitude in the embrace and exploration of classical and modern Arab literature, anchored from anywhere in the fishing villages of sub-saharan Africa to the seas of Tripoli in Lebanon. This too, with an intensity and passion afforded to me, more than many others. Not that other interests have been fatally harpooned. My love for the British classics and chunky slices of world literature still compass up a steady course.

It just feels like I may have netted a surprise catch!

The last time books worked up their lighthouse power to change my life, illuminating perceptions like a steady beacon have since turned dim. But a new allure signalled change after East Africa and another universe would soon spill the merriment of a Middle-Eastern flavour into my waiting bookish heart.