The 2018 winner of the International DUBLIN Literary Award will be announced tomorrow. As we head for our 24th year, here we answer some of the questions we get asked all the time.

What is the award?
The International DUBLIN Literary Award is the international book prize from Dublin, a Unesco City of Literature. Presented each year since 1996 for a novel written in English or translated into English, the award is sponsored and managed by Dublin City Council.

Uniquely among literary prizes books are nominated by libraries in major cities throughout the world. There is no commercial input from publishers, booksellers, or agents. It is also unique in that no title is excluded because of geographical boundaries, author nationality, country of publication etc. unlike other awards. Because of this very open process, books are brought to our attention, and to the attention of the wider world, which might otherwise remain national.

Akhil Sharma, winner of the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award for his novel Family Life, at the Mansion House, Dublin where he received his award. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Akhil Sharma, winner of the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award for his novel Family Life, at the Mansion House, Dublin where he received his award. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Why Dublin?
“I applaud the way this prize will put Dublin’s name into the international lists and I both admire and sympathize with the library services’ involvement.”
Seamus Heaney, June 1995.

“Dublin is a city of literature. It’s a city that has been inscribed in literature in a way that few other cities have and I think that for us to make that a living thing we need to engage with the new work that is being published every year.”
Chris Morash, Vice Provost of Trinity College, November 2017

“Dublin has been recognised by Unesco as a City of Literature since 2010, which is not surprising considering its rich literary history and internationally acclaimed writers. However, City of Literature status is not something that, once awarded, is given forever. Unesco is not just concerned with history but also fully expects those within its creative cities network to constantly strive to nurture and support contemporary and future literary endeavour and to collaborate internationally. Dublin City Council is strongly committed to maintaining Dublin’s City of Literature designation which not only confirms our position on the world literary map but also brings significant benefits to the city from cultural tourism.

“In this context, the International DUBLIN Literary Award is the jewel in the city’s literary crown with its vast worldwide network of writers, translators, libraries & publishers.”
Alison Lyons, Director, Dublin Unesco City of Literature

I would like to thank this city of Dublin for adding to its long history of love for writing and this language we all speak, for offering it a home and a name and lending it some of the glory of a long tradition.
David Malouf, first winner, 1996

It is more than fitting that Ireland should have a major literary award, considering its own long tradition.
Margaret Atwood, May 1996

I think it’s a lovely thing that (Dublin) City Council sponsors this award. It’s a great tribute to the city as a place where books and literature are valued.
Joseph O’Connor, 2015

We were so pleased with it’s (the award’s) contribution to the life of the city and particularly the literary life of the city that we felt it was well worth continuing and we are delighted now that it is a city council initiative, sponsored by the city council and generating we believe significant benefits for the city.
Owen Keegan, chief executive, Dublin City Council, 2015

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke with Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez whose novel The Sound of Things Falling, translated by Anne McLean, won the 2014 award. Photograph: Eric Luke
Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke with Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez whose novel The Sound of Things Falling, translated by Anne McLean, won the 2014 award. Photograph: Eric Luke

Why is the long list so very, very long?
The long list has already been selected by librarians in cities all over the world. Any book is eligible regardless of where it was published or where the author is from. Librarians have considered who knows how many books to come up with the three they send to us. Some libraries only nominate one title but when you think about 111 libraries taking part in 2018 that adds up.

Also different from other prizes, we do publish the list of all the eligible books, so everyone can see who is there and get involved in the process from the start. You may not agree with what the judges put on the shortlist but you will know all of the books that were in the mix.

Where are the libraries from Asia and other parts of the world?
Do we invite them? Yes, we invite libraries in over 400 cities all over the world to join us and we would be delighted if they did. However, we do understand that not all libraries are in a position to do so. There may be a language problem, though we do translate the rules into the major languages. Also, this is a prize for a book that has been translated into English in the last five years and not all libraries can find a book that meets the rules. Many libraries don’t have time to get involved and we understand that too. We are happy to help as much as we can and to make it as easy as possible for any library who wants to participate. As Jim Crace said in 2015: “This is a prize that looks in every nook and cranny in the world to find its winners.”

Since 1996 libraries in 85 countries and 237 cities have selected novels for the award amounting to 3,064 novels.

The nomination forms have literarily travelled the world from Mongolia, Iceland, Sierra Leone, Hawaii, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Tanzania and Suriname, bringing delight and wonder to us that libraries all over the world are basically doing the same job wherever we are and also bringing great joy to the stamp collectors on the staff!

Libraries love being the ones who pick the winner!
“Biblioteca Demonstrativa has been presenting Brazil’s nominations since 2004. This is the first time that we achieve the top of the list. It is also the very first time the prize is given to a book written in Portuguese. Many thanks for this fantastic opportunity given to us, libraries of the world.”
Ana Maria da Costa Souza, Brazil 2017, on hearing that A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from Portuguese, was the winner of the 2017 award.

“The appeal and magic of international fiction was illuminated in the moment that we saw a medium sized metropolitan city in the US (Jacksonville) and a library in the capital city of the second most populous country in the world (New Delhi) had this title in common. The distance of over 8,000 miles separation to be unified by a novel is a truly wondrous concept.”
Kathy Tekin, Jacksonville Public Library on hearing that Family Life by Akhil Sharma was the winner of the 2016 award.

Authors also love the fact that their books were nominated by libraries. For many of them it’s where they spent much of their childhood and even where they wrote their first books.



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