Galore by Micheal Crummey
Nominated by: Newfoundland & Labrador Public Libraries, Canada + Ottawa Public Library, Canada + St. John’s Public Libraries, Canada
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Doubleday Canada
I love the excess in this book, the sheer extravagant scale of it, huge cast, span of time – and with that a density of sensual effects, historical acumen.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Nominated by: Warsaw Public Library , Poland + Glasgow Libraries Information & Learning, Scotland + Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, USA + LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library, Tallahassee, USA + Denver Public Library, USA + National Library Service of Barbados, Bridgetown + Dunedin Public Libraries, New Zealand
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Faber & Faber, UK + Harper Collins USA
This is a very skilled and important book. Through the framework of a particular historical moment BK explores questions of the personal and the political that resonate today. The structure fascinated me,it has an almost physical, textile-like quality, with many coloured strands woven together. I found this book unputdownable on a first reading and multidimensional on subsequent readings.
The Vagrants by Yiyun Li
Nominated by: Stadtbibliothek Bremen, Germany + University Library of Bern, Switzerland + San Francisco Public Library, USA + Free Library of Philadelphia, USA
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Random House Inc, USA + Fourth Estate, UK
I found this novel thoroughly engrossing. It brought me into a world that I did not fully understand and opened it up for me. I thought the author’s ability to move between characters was very well handled. It’s a novel that has really stayed with me. It’s neither here nor there, but I like Yiyun Li’s short stories very much too.
A beautifully balanced, grown-up, surprising, and shapely book. Dogs, children, old people, the lot. Memorably cruel, and memorably gentle, both.
Marvellously odd and original (the relationship between the odd boy and little Nini particularly unexpected, unpredictable), its deaths were haunting, chilling, its scope huge and yet pinpointed with delicacy and without any trace of sentimentality.
Ransom by David Malouf
Nominated by: The State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia + The National Library of Australia, Canberra + Biblioteka Glowna Województwa Mazowieckiego, Poland
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Random House Australia + Vintage, UK
I have now read this book 4 times, and felt it gained on every reading. It is, in the terms in which i understand translation, a translation of Homer’s final book of the Iliad, but beyond the Homeric references, it invites us to to think deeply about the violence engendered by war,about forgiveness, about inter-generational relations between fathers and sons. I loved the way in which DM constructed his narrative, including the brief autobiographical account of its conception as a coda.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Nominated by: Cork City Libraries, Ireland + Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland + Waterford County Library, Ireland + Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek, Norway + Stadtbücherei Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany + Stadtbüchereien Düsseldorf, Germany + Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Germany + Bibliothèques Municipales Geneva, Switzerland + Municipal Library of Thessaloniki, Greece + Seattle Public Library, USA + Milwaukee Public Library, USA + Boston Public Library, USA + Richmond Public Library, USA + Halifax Public Libraries, Canada
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing, UK + Random House Inc, USA
I loved this book when I first read it, and possibly enjoyed it even more the second time round. It is beautifully structured and Colum McCann interweaves the different stories in a way that always retains the reader’s interest. I felt that he was tackling a BIG topic, and doing so with great skill in a way that would appeal to a wide range of readers, because he handles character so well and maintains the suspense of the walk throughout. There is no sense of parochialism here, it is a genuinely 21st century novel that speaks to its time.
For me, this is the most original piece of writing on the list. It examines questions of identity and displacement but does so in a language which, as both a reader and a writer, mesmerised me. It’s very daring in its structure and in its narrative voice. From the first time I read it, I felt this was a remarkable literary work.
The writing is just, instantly, beautiful. Fine, acute, precise, and McCann does what he wants with syntax. Perhaps a soupçon, sometimes, of self-delight, of overdoing it? But I find extremely poignant the way all these stories are knit together, forming a vibrant philosophy of life – literature at its very best.
Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
Nominated by: Laramie County Library System, Cheyenne, USA
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Ecco Press, USA
This is a finely crafted novel that engages the reader from the outset. Two young people from different backgrounds from the same small American town are affected in different ways by a brutal murder. Each becomes obsessed by the other,fascinated and yet repelled by the different worlds they both inhabit, until Oates finally brings them together in a powerfully written redemption sequence that is both believable and beautiful.This is a book that lingers in the mind after the last page has been read. Susan
15-year-old Kristina Diehl lives in upstate New York with her mother Lucille Baver and her a charming, alcoholic and violent father Edward Diehl. She meets and becomes fascinated by Aaron, the son of the woman her father ostensibly murdered…. No one can do this better than JCO. Always a great master, always eminently readable, she has again managed to paint a vivid portrait of America’s darker side, with sentences to linger over and admire on every page.
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Nominated by: The State Library of South Australia, Adelaide
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Allen & Unwin, Australia
A little gem of storytelling, whose narrative voice entranced me. It’s a wonderful novel, unsettling at times, curious, magical, but almost forward moving and a pageturner in the very best sense of the word. It is perhaps a slightly old-fashioned novel in a way but that’s ok. Of my choices, it feels like the one which international readers might be least familiar with and I’d like them to discover it.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibín
Nominated by: Stedelijke Openbare Bibliotheek Gent, Belgium + London’s Public Libraries, England + Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland + Zentralbibliothek Zurich, Switzerland + The Free State Provincial Library Service, Bloemfontein, South Africa + Cape Town Central Library, South Africa + Dunedin Public Libraries, New Zealand + Boston Public Library, USA + San Francisco Public Library, USA + Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, USA + Richland County Public Library, USA + San José Public Library, USA + Chicago Public Library, USA
Publishers of Nominated Editions: Viking, UK + Scribner, USA
Rarely has the experience of emigration – one of the great markers of Irish life over the last 250 years – been better described than in Colm Toibin’s BROOKLYN. A powerful story of a young woman setting out for the great adventure that is America for the first time, missing home while opening herself to a new world, the reader cannot fail to be moved by Eilis Lacey’s growing independence, her descent into love and the cruel twist that brings her back to Ireland, where she feels like a stranger in her own land.
Love and Summer by William Trevor
Nominated by: Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland + Limerick City Library, Ireland + Miami-Dade Public Library System, USA + Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, USA
Publishers of Nominated Editions: Viking, UK + Viking, USA
The characters are trippingly sketched and the style is lovely, dense yet not opaque. A bit Woolf-ish, in a modest way. Trevor has a great gift for switching scenes within scenes, clearly and deftly… The unequal love affair is beautifully drawn. An absolutely authentic novel. A small masterpiece.
The writing is so at ease, a story whose elements are rich and deep, not ever strained for, written so gracefully.
After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice by Evie Wyld
Nominated by: San Diego Public Library, USA
Publisher of Nominated Edition: Pantheon Books, USA
All about men and men’s bodies – by a very young female writer. Really rather magnificent. Though the poetic, incredibly specific prose slows you down, it is vivid, visual & sensorial. Wyld is capable of making the reader physically ill at ease. I love this book!
Bold, big, unlikely themes (immigration, men at war, and going to seed), handled with improbable skill by a first-time novelist.