Dublin mayor Paddy Bourke announced yesterday that Rawi Hage has won the 2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative prize given for a single work of fiction published in English, for his first novel, De Niro’s Game (House of Anansi Press, 2006). He received 100,000 euros (approximately $155,000).
Hage’s novel, which tells the story of two childhood friends and the opposing paths they take in surviving civil unrest and paramilitary crime in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, was also shortlisted for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2006 Governor General’s Award for English fiction. Hage, who immigrated to Canada in the early 1980s as a result of a prolonged civil war in his native Lebanon, commented when accepting the award at Dublin City Hall that he has made an effort to follow a lineage of authors “who have chosen the painful and costly portrayal of truth over tribal self-righteousness.”
The winning title was chosen by an international judging panel from 137 books nominated by libraries worldwide. The judges were Patricia Duncker, Eibhlín Evans, Helon Habila, Aamer Hussein, José Luis de Juan, and Eugene R. Sullivan.
“De Niro’s Game is an eloquent, forthright and at times beautifully written first novel,” the judges said in a statement. “Ringing with insight and authenticity, the novel shows how war can envelope lives.”
Finalists for the Prize were Patrick McCabe for Winterwood (Bloomsbury, 2006), Yasmina Khadra for The Attack (Nan A. Talese, 2006), Sayed Kashua for Let It Be Morning (Grove Press, 2006), Andrei Makine for The Woman Who Waited (Arcade, 2006), Yasmine Gooneratne for The Sweet, Simple, and Kind (Perera-Hussein, 2006), Gail Jones for Dreams of Speaking (Harvill Secker, 2006), and Javier Cercas for The Speed of Light (Bloomsbury, 2006).
The annual International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is administered by Dublin’s public library system and financed by Improved Management Productivity and Control (IMPAC), a Connecticut-based management consultancy with European headquarters in Dublin.