Thursday, 26 April 2012

Israeli author listed for lucrative literary award

So often it takes the accolades that come with being nominated for a prize to bring new writers to our attention. Despite being one of the most lucrative prizes on offer anywhere in the literary world – a substantial 100,000 – the International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award barely rates a mention in our mainstream press.

What makes this prize stand out from the others, is that books are nominated by a global network of librarians (as opposed to being submitted by publishers). This year, making its way through a long list of lofty literary company is Limassol - the second novel by Israeli author, Yishai Sarid.

You may be interested to know that Sarid's book was nominated by Stadbibliothek Bremen, in Germany. On 12 April, Limassol was announced as one of the ten short-listed finalists.

Limassol is about a sting operation involving a Shin Bet agent who goes undercover as a writer. The agent seeks to connect with an Israeli novelist and peace campaigner, who is good friends with a Palestinian poet. The poet’s son is a radical Palestinian activist…  and so the stage is set for the action.

Haaretz reports that it’s getting “exceptional attention” in Germany because of the plot’s similarities to Mossad’s assassination of the Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in Dubai in 2010.  Sarid has denied any connection, and although he concedes that there are “some interesting similarities” he is quoted as saying,  “the book was written several years ago, obviously without any connection to the Mabhouh affair”.

In a review, Zman Yerushalayim compares Limassol to Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, calling it “a parable on the ailments of Israeli society as they manifest in the Israeli idea of security, in the culture, in the drug and crime industries, and in the Palestinian conflict.” Indeed, security in this age of terrorism poses a range of questions, moral and otherwise, for all countries around the world.

Limassol has been translated into eight languages, and although not widely available, it can be ordered from our festival partner, Booktopia, at a seriously discounted price.

The winner will be announced on 15 June.

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