Michael Thomas Wins Dublin's IMPAC Award for Managing and Producing the Best Novel
Cheers to Michael Thomas for taking home Dublin's IMPAC Award last week for his novel "Man Gone Down." The IMPAC is the world's biggest purse for a novel, making Thomas a target now if you see him in any New York bars and somebody needs to buy the next round.

This man will buy you a drink if you ask him in an Irish accent!

If you win the IMPAC, you get $150,000. If that doesn't sound like a lot of money, then you've probably never written a novel.

The IMPAC is the strangest award. It was started by an American "managment productivity company" to raise goodwill in Ireland. The company's European office is in Dublin, and when local bartenders told IMPAC that they would only have to contribute $150,000 every year to be doing the MOST for novels in the world, IMPAC laughed, shook their heads at such a cynical jest, and then discovered that this was true. IMPAC decided that they could easily pay this much every year in order to reward people for "managing" and "producing" good fiction. Sponsoring a NASCAR driver, for instance, would cost millions.

The IMPAC is open to any novel written in any language by an author of any nationality, provided the work has been published in English during the previous year.

Additionally, nominations for the IMPAC come from libraries and not from publishers. Library systems submit nominations, and the books are judged by the Dublin City Council. "Man Gone Down," for instance, was nominated by "The National Library Service of Barbados, Bridgetown."

The IMPAC sounds like a prize created by Irish scientists to keep the novel on life support. I suspect it will be a prize that only grows in reputation and renown, especially if it keeps being the "world's richest novel prize." They desperately need a new name for it, however. Why are novel prizes always named after the sponsor, like fucking Little League Baseball? The "IMPAC Award" sounds like an award for excellence in "management productivity," not for writing. IMPAC should keep fronting the money, sure, but they ought to call this award the Blarney Prize, or something.

"Man Gone Down" is Thomas' first novel and it sounds pretty good. According to Wikipedia, Thomas has never worked a "proper job," and has instead survived as a writer by working in bars, pizza delivery, film sets, construction, and driving a taxi.

From the "Judge's Citation" for "Man Gone Down."

"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. When we meet the narrator, he's had to leave his wife and children with his disapproving mother-in-law, and now has just four days to raise the money necessary to reunite the family and return the children to school.

"If you've ever been broke â€" really broke," he observes, "there are two things you know about being so: the universe is constantly conspiring to keep you that way..."

If you want to know the second thing about being really broke, you'll have to read the book.

Hopefully, Thomas won't forget. Hopefully, his second novel will be about how it feels to eat big fucking steaks, lose a lot of money in real estate, and have expensive affairs with young mercenaries.

Posted by miracle on Mon, 15 Jun 2009 18:58:08 -0400 -- permanent link

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