Friday, June 12, 2009

Debut Novel Wins IMPAC

The world's richest literary prize, the IMPAC Dublin has been awarded to debut novelist Michael Thomas for his novel Man Gone Down. The American author beat off some powerful competition on the shortlist including Junot Dias, Indra Sinha and Mohsin Hamid.

The judges said of the book :
We never know his name. But the African-American protagonist of Michael Thomas’ masterful debut, Man Gone Down, will stay with readers for a long time. He lingers because this extraordinary novel comes to us from a writer of enthralling voice and startling insight. Tuned urgently to the way we live now, the winner of the International Dublin IMPAC Prize 2009 is a novel brilliant in its scope and energy, and deeply moving in its human warmth. ... The first person narrator in Man Gone Down has not fallen, yet. But he stands at a precipice. A black man from Boston married to a white woman with whom he has three children. A once promising Harvard student now broke and working in construction in Brooklyn. When we meet the narrator, he’s had to leave his wife and children with his disapproving mother-in-law, and now has just four days to raise the money necessary to reunite the family and return the children to school.
Thomas explains in The Guardian how the novel came into being. He'd written what he thought was the beginning of a short story collection for his graduate thesis :
... but one of the stories was crying out to become a novel. ... One day I was doing my laundry and I realised the breaks were chapters, not pages, and I started writing a novel. ... I write to images, or lines, and the end came to me – the last two paragraphs, the last line. I was always writing to it. I had to get there.

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