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Sunday 28 February 2010

What we talked about....

....when we talked about nothing.

Lobby talk:

“Did you see him?”


“Yer man, whatshisname.”

“Oh, yea, he’s staying here with his wife.”

“Must have arrived last night.”


“He was sitting outside reading that book, you know, the one that won the IMPAC.”

“The horses one?”

“Yea, Out Stealing Horses, I think.”

“Loved it. By Per Petterson, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, think that was it.”

And here’s another one as we enjoyed dinner in a high-class restaurant off the orangery:

“Well, did you?”

“No, I never slept with a policeman.”


“...but I did sleep with a policeman’s wife!”

We all cracked up at that one.

Instant friendship:

“But I can come with you. I speak Spanish, it’s absolutely no trouble at all.”

Ulla could and did and without her our visit to A&E would not have gone so smoothly. She translated, filled in forms, held hands, and guided us through the system with ease. P, having fallen down some marble stairs, emerged after her ordeal looking like Frankenstein’s moll with large black stitches running up her gashed arm. We could not repay Ulla’s kindness but we can pass it on.

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Thursday 11 June 2009

IMPAC & The Price Of Progress

Today, the results of the 2009 Dublin IMPAC Literary Award will be announced but I will not be there. Last year, from my front row seat I watched Rawi Hage walk up to receive his prize, his grin reaching from ear to ear, his infectious good humour delighting everyone who clapped loudly, celebrating his well deserved win. His stunning novel, De Niro’s Game, captured, with gusto, the atmosphere of life in the devastation that is Beirut. When all the fuss had died down and the assembled admirers decanted to the basement for wine and tasty bites, I went back upstairs, looking to have my copy signed, and found the exuberant author dancing on the stage with two young ladies as if he had the whole world at his feet.

In 2007, a more sombre but quietly pleased, Per Petterson arrived from Norway to accept on behalf of that fine novel, Out Stealing Horses. He nearly tripped over my handbag as he came down through the crowd to accept his cheque and the Lord Mayor’s handshake. Colm Tóibín, in 2006, was a delightful winner, pleased as punch to be recognised in his island home. My signed copy of The Master sits proudly on my bookshelf among the hoi polloi and lesser masterpieces.

2005 was the first year I attended this marvellous inclusive event when Edward P. Jones, a shy and unassuming American writer, won the prize with The Known World. This book challenged long held assumptions, fair took my breath away and remains a firm favourite on my shelf of fame.

But this year I shall stay at home. My handbag shall remain on the hall table, my favourite among the shortlist unsigned. You see, time moves on and this year Dublin City Council have decided not to invite all and sundry to this event. Instead, there will be a dinner in the evening (black tie no doubt) to which only the crème de la crème of Irish literary society will be invited. Ah well, that’s the price of progress!

2009 IMPAC shortlist

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