Colombia's Juan Gabriel Vasquez wins IMPAC award

Colombia's Juan Gabriel Vasquez wins IMPAC award

A novel in translation has won the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

The Sound of Things Falling by Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Bloomsbury), originally in Spanish and translated by Canadian Anne McLean, was awarded the prize today. Vásquez, the first South American writer to win the award in its 19-year history, received €75,000 and McLean was given €25,000.

The award, which is managed by Dublin City Libraries and recognises authors and translators, is given for a single work of fiction published in English. Nominations for the awards are received from public libraries from across the world.

The judges said: “The Sound of Things Falling is a consummate literary thriller that resonates long after the final page.

“Through a masterly command of layered time periods, spiralling mysteries and a noir palette, it reveals how intimate lives are overshadowed by history; how the past preys on the present; and how the fate of individuals as well as countries is moulded by distant, or covert, events.”

Vásquez said: “For me, it's all about the names: the names of writers who have received the award before me and whose work I've admired and looked up to; but particularly the name of James Joyce.

“I have often said that there are two books that made me want to become a writer: One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I read when I was 16, and Ulysses, which I read three years later. I've always felt at home in Dublin and in Irish literature. So in more ways than one, this prize is a sort of homecoming.”

McLean said: “I love that libraries nominate the books eligible for this prize and that translated novels are considered on an equal footing with books originally written in English. The Sound of Things Falling is a wonderful and important novel and I hope this will mean it can reach even wider readership in the English-speaking world.”

The translation of Vásquez’s book, whcih was one of five in translation on the shortlist of 10, was enabled by a grant from English PEN. The group's Writers in Translation grants are enabled by the Arts Council England and Bloomberg.

The other translated books on the shortlist were The Detour by Garbrand Bakker (Harvill Secker), originally in Dutch and translated by David Colmer; A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgard (Harvill Secker), originally in Norwegian and translated by Don Bartlett; Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye (MacLehose), translated from the French by John Fletcher; and Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman (Pushkin Press), translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia.

The remaining books on the shortlist were Questions of Travel by Michelle De Kretser (Allen & Unwin); Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic Books); The Light of Amsterdam by David Park (Bloomsbury); The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (Doubleday); and The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon).