The Speed of Light by Javier Cercas

Translated from the original Spanish by Anne McLean

Nominated by: Helsinki City Library, Finland

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing

Judges’ Comments

This is a novel about a writer’s progress – a sort of Pilgrims Progress through trials and temptations to reach the final goal. In this case the final goal is an understanding of what it means to be human. The Speed of Light has the ability of all great novels to transcend the literal and to speak to us with the force of a metaphor: a metaphor about the vanity of fame, the suddenness of loss, and the abiding qualities of friendship.





The Sweet & Simple Kind by Yasmine Gooneratne

Nominated by: Colombo Public Library, Sri Lanka

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Perara Hussein Publishing House

About the Book

Resonant in its social insights and beautifully written, Yasmine Gooneratne creates a richly imagined world of love, political chicanery and family turmoil in the newly independent Sri Lanka of the 1950s and 60s. As a highly political family attempts to balance language with religion, and privilege with equity, two smart, sassy young women pursue their personal freedoms. The Sweet & Simple Kind enchants us with its combination of authenticity, humour and passion, and haunts us with reminders of what we were and what we might have been. (From Publisher)





De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage

Nominated by: Winnipeg Public Library, Canada

Publisher of Nominated Edition: House of Anansi Press, CanadaJudges’ Comments

Judges’ Comments

Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game is an eloquent, forthright and at times beautifully written first novel. Ringing with insight and authenticity the novel shows how war can envelope lives – how one doesn’t have much choice in such circumstances. It’s a game where there are no winners, just degrees of survival. His writing is both shockingly stark and deeply resonant where the sounds of the Old Testament are overlaid with the urgency of Ginsberg’s Howl – producing a stylistically perfect pitch between the language of violence and the cadences of a young soul searching for redemption in a ravaged world. His unflinching gaze pours the blood-red sands of our moral dilemmas over every page. It’s a wonderful debut and a deserving winner.





Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones

Nominated by: State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia + National Library of Australia, Canberra

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Harvill Secker

Judges’ Comments

With elegant and precise language, full of tenderness and authenticity, Gail Jones articulates a compelling, suggestive novel about our living among wires and modern gadgets, which holds tight the reader both emotionally and intellectually.  





Let it be Morning by Sayed Kashua

Translated from the original Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger

Nominated by: Jafet Library, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Grove Atlantic

Judges’ Comments

This is a sharp, richly observed chronicle of an individual forced back into his community in a episode of emotional, physical and political tightrope-walking. Kashua recounts the situation of an Arab-Israeli trying to survive a situation of heightened aggression between both sides of his hyphenated identity. With echoes of Camus and Orwell providing the moral chill and a powerful sense of estrangement, Kashua’s anti-hero’s experiences are also, at times, beautifully and movingly recounted. 





The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

Translated from the original French by John Cullen

Nominated by: Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon, France + Kansas City Public Library, USA + Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland

Publisher of Nominated Edition: William Heinemann + Nan A. Talese/Doubleday

Judges’ Comments

Set in the Middle East this powerful novel constructs a political debate about ethics, political action, loyalty and betrayal, moves confidently between all the antagonistic factions, leaving the reader to make the final judgement.





Winterwood by Patrick McCabe

Nominated by: Cork City Libraries, Ireland + Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing

Judges’ Comments

McCabe’s novel is an elegant, poetic and disturbing tale of the confrontation between old Ireland and modernity; his prose is lyrical, unsettling.





The Woman who Waited by Andrei Makine

Translated from the original French by Geoffrey Strachan

Nominated by: Waterford County Library, Ireland

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Sceptre

Judges’ Comments

Makine’s novel set in the small Russian village of Mirnoe is a haunting tale of longing and loyalty. Its power is in the setting. This village of elderly WW II widows and Vera the woman who takes care of them, is brought alive by Makine’s poetic prose. Every decrepit house, every river, every empty road, every troubled character, is described with incredible detail and completeness. This is a great book filled with history and broadened by constant allusion.