International DUBLIN Literary Award longlist

The International DUBLIN Literary Award is among the more interesting English-language international book prizes. Books are nominated by participating libraries from many (though, alas, far from all) parts of the world — 109 cities in 40 countries for the 2017 prize, apparently — and these nominated titles make up the just-announced 147-title  longlist, from which a jury will now select a still-huge shortlist (to be announced 17 April 2017) and then a winning title (21 June 2017).

As you can see from the longlist, it is a very diverse list, quality- and national-origin-wise. Unfortunately, one of the benefits of having local libraries select titles — the fact that they often choose ones from writers in their own country — also proves a drawback, given that many regions of the world aren’t represented by participating libraries. This leads to the odd situation of there being 43 titles in translation, from 19 languages, but not one from Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, and only a single title translated from the Arabic. Similarly, all of Africa is grossly under-represented.

It’s too bad they don’t try to fix this imbalance, or to get more libraries to look beyond their borders. Still, out of this huge pile a solid shortlist usually emerges, and there have been some excellent winners. And even this huge list offers a good overview of much recent international fiction available in English.