Do literary awards matter? Perhaps. Is it a silly thing to say that one novel is better than another? Maybe. Most writers make polite noises about comparing art being a futile exercise. Unless you’re Anthony Burgess, of course.When he was nominated for the Booker Prize, he refused to attend the ceremony unless he knew he was going to win. Just as well: he didn’t. While the debate about the merit of book awards will continue as long as they exist, there’s no doubt that publishers love them; they almost always guarantee an increase in book sales. So you can bet there are a lot of happy publishers today because the International DUBLIN Literary Award, the world’s richest literary prize, has announced the longlist for the 2017 prize.
Almost 150 novels from around the world, including 43 by American authors and 43 books in translation (including novels originally written in Bulgarian, Icelandic, Kannada, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Slovene and Turkish, and notably only one written in Arabic), are included in the list. Authors vying for the prize include Anne Tyler, John Irving, John Banville, Anne Enright, Nuala Ni Chonchúir, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Smiley, Salman Rusdhie, and Milan Kundera. 30 of the nominated books are debut novels. The International DUBLIN Literary Award – worth over $100,000 – is organized by Dublin City Council, and the novels are nominated by public libraries across the globe. A shortlist will be announced in April and the winner chosen in June. The winner of the 2016 prize was Akhil Sharma’s Family Life.