A lot of blogs have contests, but I would like to think that we do our best here to make it interesting for everyone to enter, while at the same time requiring them to jump over a small stile. KfC has not had a contest for a while but we do have a tradition of challenging our entrants. And, of course, demanding a skill component. And then introducing something totally unskilled as a tie-breaker.
So…KfC ran a contest last year on the 2009 IMPAC awards. In many ways, while the IMPAC is not the most important of the Prize contests, it is the most interesting — nominations are made by libraries around the world (which produces a very long (156 books) longlist — see here — which I would like to think has some reader impact) and then winnowed down to a shortlist of eight. Most important, the conditions are English language novels published two years ago and translations into English from the last five years. That means that the IMPAC in some ways is a “look back” at prize competitions from two years ago; but then they add their own twist. And throw in a few translated novels just to make it interesting. And then the jury often chooses the most outrageous result (yes, I admit now that I abandoned last year’s winner, Man Gone Down, 270 pages into the book). By way of spiking interest, the Booker-winning The White Tiger was elgible this year and did not make the short list; neither did The Secret Scipture. These library readers are a very, very picky bunch. More power to them, I say.
The first prize in the KfC contest will be $100 in credit at the international online bookseller who will accept my credit card and ship to your address (alas, the last time I checked the Book Depository does not offer this service yet). Second prize will be $50 worth of book credits. In both cases, for those who are interested in Canadian books, I will be quite willing to increase the prize by 50 per cent if we can negotiate a list of books to be shipped from Canada. The IMPAC winner will be announced on June 17 so that makes the entry deadline for this contest midnight, June 16 GMT — to encourage early entries, there will be a 25 per cent prize bonus to any winning entry that is submitted prior to June 1 .
Do submit an entry quickly so we can at least get some comment talk going. You are allowed to change your choice any time before the deadline.
And of course with only eight books on the list, there must be a tie-breaker. If two entries pick the winner, we will split the prize. If there are more than two, in the interests of encouraging my Antipodean and North American visitors, this year’s tie-breaker will be: Whoever lives farthest away from the most frequent abode of the winning author (KfC will be the judge of that). I certainly hope that doesn’t discourage UK and Ireland entries but it does add a totally arbitrary element to the contest. If only one person picks the winner, the second prize will go to the entry that amuses KfC the most.
(NOTE: If you are reluctant about entering this contest, let me tell you the story of last year’s. After receiving many entries, I had none from John Self at The Asylum and shamed him into submitting an entry. He noticed that Man Gone Down had no supporters, named it and, of course, it won. We had a great time putting together a selection of books for his newborn son, Finn. I fully expect Finn to make his own entry this year. So don’t think you need to be an expert reader to enter — the IMPAC jury has a history of off the wall decisions when it comes to the short list).
So here is this year’s shortlist. I have only read two, and that was before I started this blog — I’ve included links to reviews that I think are very good of both. I promise to do my best to get to the other six, all of which have been ordered (I’ll put up a link to other reviews if I don’t do one myself).
The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (translated from the Dutch). Reviewed by Trevor here but I do intend to get to it myself.
Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill. Reviewed at the Mookse and the Gripes here.
Home, by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve read it, didn’t like it, but here’s a link to dovegreyreader who loved the book.
And if you are a blogger who has reviewed any of the shortlist, or a reader who has read a review of any that you thought was helpful, please do not hesitate to supply a link. The IMPAC is a global, friendly contest and KfC’s offshoot is meant to reflect that.