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‘My Life Completely Changed’: Debut Wins World’s Richest Prize for a Novel

12 June 2019

From The Guardian:

Emily Ruskovich was sitting in her back garden in Boise, Idaho, playing in the grass with her one-year-old daughter, when she got the phone call to tell her that she had won the world’s richest prize for a single novel: the €100,000 (£88,000) International Dublin literary award. The 33-year-old debut novelist says she kept thinking she must have misunderstood or hallucinated the news.

“I didn’t speak at first, then I reacted with great joy, but then I also felt really uncertain,” she says. “I couldn’t really believe it had happened. It was just a quiet little moment in the grass with my baby and my life was completely changed.”

Ruskovich’s first novel, Idaho, had won a prize awarded to writers including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and last year’s winner, Irish novelist Mike McCormack. Public libraries around the world nominate their favourite novels to form a very long longlist (141 books this year). Idaho was put forward for the prize by just one library: a branch in Bruges, Belgium.

Set in the mountains where Ruskovich herself grew up, Idaho tells of a mother who kills her younger daughter with an axe while the family is chopping logs in a clearing. But the judges said the book was no thriller, rather that it “gradually uncovers the psychological abysses that would explain the inexplicable”.

. . . .

Ruskovich says the crime at the heart of the novel stems from an uncanny experience she had while cutting firewood with her parents. After arriving at a clearing where “everything was beautiful, and there was the sound of grasshoppers and crows sunning themselves on the logs”, she immediately had “this intense feeling of grief as if the place itself had a memory and I had just stepped into the memory.

“I just knew something terrible happened there. I’ve never had an experience like that in my life. I’ve received feelings from different places but this was different. My parents said it was like I was in a mild trance that whole day, they could tell something was wrong with me. I couldn’t get it out of my system so writing the novel was the process of figuring out what I imagined had happened in that place,” she says.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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One Comments to “‘My Life Completely Changed’: Debut Wins World’s Richest Prize for a Novel”

  1. Mom kills daughter with axe and everyone agonizes over it for hundreds of flowery pages.

    No thanks.

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