The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Nominated by: The Free Library of Philadelphia, USA + Houston Public Library, Texas, USA + Cleveland Public Library, Ohio, USA + Boston Public Library, USA + New York Public Library, USA + Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois, USA + Cork City Libraries, Ireland

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Riverhead Books

Judges’ Comments

Junot Diaz’s first novel is an exhilarating, roller-coaster of a read, recounting in witty high-octane Spanish the story of a Dominican immigrant family in New York.

Our hero, fat-boy nerd, Oscar, dreams of romance and literary success and possibly even achieves it, although he can’t avoid Dominica’s killing fields.





Ravel by Jean Echenoz

Translated from the original French by LInda Coverdale

Nominated by: Galway County Library, Ireland + Bibliothèque Municipale de Nice, France + Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Munich, Germany

Publisher of Nominated Edition: The New Press

Judges’ Comments

Jean Echenoz’s Ravel is a masterful renegotiation of the flimsy boundary between fiction and biography. It is a short but virtuoso performance, depicting the last decade in the life of Maurice Ravel. It is a brief novel, which manages to feel — like a composition by Ravel himself — rich and expansive, full of precise detail, quirky humour, and disquiet in the shadow of steadily approaching death.





The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Nominated by: Universitäts-und Landesbibliothek Bonn, Germany + Cleveland Public Library, Ohio, USA + Stedelijke Openbare Bibliotheek Gent, Belgium + Cape Breton Regional Library, Sydney, Canada + Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland + Birmingham Libraries, England + Stockholm Public Library, Sweden + Tweebronnen Openbare Bibliotheek, Leuven, Belgium

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Hamish Hamilton Ltd + Harcourt + Doubleday Canada

Judges’ Comments

Thrilling but thoughtful, The Reluctant Fundamentalist grips the imagination from the first line to the climax in its final pages. The novel traces the story of Changez, from Lahore, Pakistan, his early professional years in America, his return home, and his encounter with a mysterious American visitor in a city square. Over the hours that follow this meeting, Mohsin Hamid’s second novel guides readers through one of the murkiest of 9/11’s legacies: our now-endless capacity to be suspicious of one another.





The Archivist’s Story by Travis Holland

Nominated by: New Hampshire State Library, Concord, USA

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Dial Press

Judges’ Comments

Set in Moscow in 1939, this exquisitely crafted novel picks its way deftly through a maze of mistrust and chicanery, quietly illuminating a young archivist’s quest to save an unpublished story from burning by order of an arcane regime. As evocative of Chekov as it is of Vermeer, this novel has the hallmark of a classic.





The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

Translated from the original Norwegian by Don Shaw and Don Bartlett

Nominated by: Stavanger Bibliotek og Kulturhus, Norway

Publisher of Nominated Edition: John Murray Publishers

Judges’ Comments

The subtle and profound tale of a self-professed village idiot resisting war and its degradations with nothing but his own unwavering sanity, exposing the madness and absurdity of 20th century conflicts and leading us to the core of humanity. Written in powerful sparse language, this is a masterpiece of a novel allowing us to understand the universal by exploring the specific.





The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt

Nominated by: Jafet Library, The American University of Beirut, Lebanon + San Diego Public Library, California, USA + The State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing

Judges’ Comments

The encounter of two great mathematicians painted on the rich canvas of English society at the beginning of the last century expands into a thorough and at times funny examination of intellectual and cultural colonialism as well as the mutual alienations of, and benefits to its protagonists. A stylish and well-researched novel, presenting us with deep insights into the essence and the interplay of gender, class and culture.





Animal’s People by Indra Sinha

Nominated by: Mestska Knihovna v Praze / Municipal Library of Prague, Czech Republic

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Simon & Schuster

Judges’ Comments

‘Animal’ is the nick-name of a teenage Indian street boy, hideously malformed by a factory explosion. His energy and no-holds-barred ingenuity, brilliantly brought to life by Indra Sinha, make him invaluable to those fighting state corruption and lead him, via multiple scams and lunacies, towards brighter hopes.





Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas

Nominated by: The National Library Service of Barbados, Bridgtown

Publisher of Nominated Edition: Grove Atlantic Inc.

Judges’ Comments

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. Man Gone Down is a novel that will resonate long into the future, a work that devastates and rebuilds, but is attuned always to the human yearning that is the story’s beating heart.