Suzette Mayr and Eleanor Catton among 8 Canadians longlisted for $147K Dublin Literary Award

Eight books written by Canadians are among the 70 longlisted for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award, including The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr and Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton.

The €100,000 ($146,842 Cdn) prize annually recognizes the best work of fiction in English from anywhere in the world. It is the most valuable award in the world for a single work of fiction published in English. This year, the prize celebrates its 29th year in operation. 

Mayr’s The Sleeping Car Porter is about Baxter, a closeted queer Black man who works as a sleeping car porter on a train in 1929. He smiles and tries to be invisible to the passengers, but he wants to save up and go to dentistry school. On one particular trip out west, the train is stalled and Baxter finds a postcard of two gay men. The postcard reawakens memories and desires and ultimately puts his job in jeopardy.

The Sleeping Car Porter won the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Mayr is a poet and novelist based in Calgary. She is the author of the novels Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley HallMonocerosMoon HoneyThe Widows and Venous HumMonoceros won the ReLit Award, the City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Book Prize and made the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

LISTEN | Suzette Mayr speaks with Ryan B. Patrick about her novel The Sleeping Car Porter: 

The Next Chapter12:17Suzette Mayr on The Sleeping Car Porter

Ryan B. Patrick interviews Suzette Mayr on her 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize- winning novel, The Sleeping Car Porter.

Catton’s Birnam Wood is an engaging eco-thriller set in the middle of a landslide in New Zealand. Mira, the founder of a guerilla gardening collective that plants crops amid other criminal environmental activities, sets her sights on an evacuated farm as a way out of financial ruin. The only problem is the American billionaire Robert Lemoine has already laid claim to it as his end-of-the-world lair. After the same thing for polar opposite reasons, their paths cross and Robert makes Mira an offer that would stave off her financial concerns for good. The question is: can she trust him?

Catton is a London, Ont.-born New Zealand author. She won the 2013 Booker Prize for fiction and the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction for her second novel, The Luminaries.

Birnam Wood was shortlisted for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

LISTEN | Eleanor Catton reflects on writing a contemporary eco-thriller: 

Writers and Company59:02Booker winner Eleanor Catton’s new novel, Birnam Wood, is a moral thriller for our times

In 2013, Canadian-born, New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton made history when she became the youngest person ever to win the Booker Prize. Catton was just 28 and her novel, The Luminaries, went on to become an international bestseller. Catton later adapted her novel for a BBC-TV mini-series and wrote the screenplay for the 2020 film production of Jane Austen’s Emma. Now, her much anticipated new novel, Birnam Wood, a page-turning eco-thriller set in New Zealand’s South Island, tackles some of the biggest issues of our time, including the climate crisis, digital surveillance and economic inequality.

Emma Donoghue, Billy-Ray Belcourt, William Ping, Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay, Geoffrey D. Morrison and Kevin Lambert are the other Canadians on the longlist. 

A book cover with gold writing and a photo of a mountainous island in the middle of the sea.

Donoghue is longlisted for her novel Haven set in 7th-century Ireland in a time of plague and terror. A scholar priest named Artt has a dream in which God tells him to leave the sinful world behind. With two monks — young Trian and old Cormac — he rows down the River Shannon in search of an isolated spot in which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find the steep, bare island known today as Skellig Michael. In such a place, what will survival mean? 

Donoghue is an Irish Canadian writer. Her books include the novels Learned by Heart, LandingRoomFrog MusicThe WonderThe Pull of the Stars and the children’s book The Lotterys Plus OneRoom was an international bestseller and was adapted into a critically acclaimed film starring Brie Larson.

Belcourt’s A Minor Chorus is also longlisted and follows an unnamed narrator who abandons his thesis and goes back to his hometown, where he has a series of intimate encounters bringing the modern queer and Indigenous experience into focus.

A Minor Chorus was longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Belcourt is a writer and academic from Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. In 2016, he became the first Indigenous person from Canada to become a Rhodes Scholar. Belcourt won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for his first poetry collection, This Wound is a World. The collection also won the 2018 Indigenous Voices Award for most significant work of poetry in English and was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry.

A yellow book cover with an illustrated green cloud.

Ping is longlisted for his debut novel Hollow Bamboo which was a finalist for the 2023 Amazon First Novel Award. Taking place in Newfoundland, it is a story about two William Pings — a millennial in the present with a realization that he needs to learn more about his Chinese heritage and his grandfather in the past who came to Newfoundland from China to work in a laundry in 1931. 

Ping is a writer and CBC journalist at the St. John’s bureau. He completed his Master of Arts at Memorial University and received the English department’s Award for Thesis Excellence for the book he wrote for his master’s degree. 

Boulianne-Tremblay is recognized for her novel Dandelion Daughter translated from French by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch, Geoffrey D. Morrison for his novel Falling Hour and Kevin Lambert for Querelle of Roberval, translated from French by Donald Winkler. 

The Dublin prize’s longlist is compiled by library nominations from around the world. Nominations by 80 libraries from 35 countries are on this year’s longlist.

A jury selects the shortlist and winner from these submissions.

The 2024 jury is comprised of author and translator Anton Hur, literature professor Daniel Medin, literature professor Lucy Collins, poet and translator Ingunn Snædal and author and journalist Irenosen Okojie.

The jury is chaired by Chris Morash, a professor at Trinity College Dublin, who does not vote.

The shortlist will be announced on March 26 and the winner will be revealed on May 23.

Last year’s winner was Marzahn, Mon Amour by German author Katja Oskamp and translator Jo Heinrich.

Two Canadians have won the prize since its 1996 inception: Alistair MacLeod won in 2001 for No Great Mischief and Rawi Hage won in 2008 for De Niro’s Game.

For the full list of 2024 nominees, check out the awards website.

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