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$120,000 Makes a Big IMPAC
The Straits Times (Singapore) 
Copyright 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

November 26, 2005 Saturday

This year's longlist for the International IMPAC Dublin literary award boasts a Singapore connection. Malaysian-born, Singapore-raised and now United States-based author Vyvyane Loh's Breaking The Tongue is among the 132 books on the list.

Set in Singapore on the eve of the Japanese invasion during World War II, the epic novel centres on Claude Lim, a boy from an Anglophile family who has to wrestle with issues of nationality and identity.

When Life! called the Boston-based author yesterday, she was unaware that her book had been shortlisted. When told that the award has the richest prize money in the world, with 100,000 euros (S$120,000) going to the winner, she exclaimed: 'Are you serious? I must be totally clueless.'

She was modest about her chances of winning: 'I bet it's a long shot. I'll be happy to be on the shortlist.'

The IMPAC award was established in 1994 by Ireland's Dublin City Council and sponsored by IMPAC a productivity improvement company. It is open to books in any language.

The prize is significant because the longlist is nominated by libraries from around the world, reflecting a truly diverse range of interests.

This year, nominations were submitted by 180 libraries from 124 cities in 43 countries, including Singapore's National Library. This year's list includes 31 translated books spanning a total of 15 languages.

Asian titles made a strong showing this year. Among the nominees are Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide, a love story which takes place in the Bay of Bengal; Ha Jin's well-received War Trash, which is set against the Korean War; and Guo Xiaolu's Village Of Stone, about Beijing's younger generation.

The longlist will be whittled down to a shortlist, to be announced in April, by an international panel of judges.

The judges this year include Scottish writer Andrew O'Hagen and Italian poet Paolo Ruffilli. The chairman is Eugene Sullivan, a former US court of appeals chief judge.

The winner will be announced on June 14. Last year's winner was The Known World by American Edward P Jones.

Ong Sor Fern

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