Monday, February 05, 2007

And The Winner Is . . .

This week, I was nominated for a prize. Well, not me, exactly (to say that "I" was nominated for a prize makes it sound a bit like I was given the nod just for being me, which would be flattering, if rather unlikely) but The Book of Lost Things, which I wrote and for which I can therefore claim a certain amount of credit.

Being nominated for a prize brings with it a certain amount of trepidation. It's always nicer to be nominated than not to be nominated, but it's also nicer to win than not to win. Being a glass is half-empty kind of person, I suspect that I'll spend the weeks to come perfecting my resigned-but-not-bitter-in-defeat look. Actually, I've had a bit of experience with that one already, to be honest, and not just in the area of literary prizes, so it's not like it will be a stretch.

Every Dead Thing won a prize, the Shamus, in the US, but due to all sorts of confusion I managed to miss the ceremony and was eventually presented with my prize in a bar just before the staff decided to eject everyone, so "handed quickly and boozily" might be more accurate than "presented" in this case. It was still nice to receive it, though. In the UK, a judge on one of the big crime prizes announced that Every Dead Thing would be nominated over his/her dead body. In retrospect, that would have been a fair swap.

A couple of years later I was nominated for a literary prize, but I didn't win it. Rightly so: the winning book was better than mine, so there could be no argument. After the announcement, a very well known Irish critic and literary commentator who was present for the ceremony patted me on the arm and pointed out that I wrote quite well, and perhaps I should consider writing a proper novel. Actually, I think his exact words were "a novel more appropriate to my talents" but it amounted to the same thing. Now such comments are, to borrow a Gary Larson quote, "acid off a duck's back", but at the time I remember feeling a bit hurt.

Meanwhile, the gloss on another potential prize was slightly tarnished when a fellow writer told me that he had agreed to have his name removed from the ballot in order to "give someone else a chance to win". I don't know if the latter was true or not, but the fact that the author in question would even bother to say it revealed a lot about him. Silly sod.

I suppose that what is nice about this prize is that it's for the Irish Novel of the Year. I don't get nominated for stuff very often, and less so in my own country, so a nod of any kind is gratefully received. There is also the fact that I am, and am likely to remain, a genre novelist, even if The Book of Lost Things doesn't quite fit neatly into any genre I can think of. I will rarely find myself in the running for a more general literary prize, and the experience is rather flattering.

But, for now, it's back to The Reapers. And, you know, that's no bad thing either.

This week John read

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

and listened to

Adjágas by Adjágas
Wincing the Night Away by The Shins


Kevin Wignall said...

John, what did you think of Starter for Ten? I thought the scenes at the Harbinsons house were some of the funniest things I've read in years.

By the way, I wrote a muddled critique of Lost Things over at Contemporary Nomad a while back, the upshot of which was that I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. But I've recommended it to countless people since, listed it among my 2006 faves for Crimespree and many aspects of it are still compellingly stuck in my mind. So whatever you did there, it gets my vote.

Sarah said...

And fyi, THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS was nominated for another prize earlier this year - the Alex, given by the American Library Association for the best books written by adults that are appropriate for teen audiences. I thought that was very cool indeed.

Tom Hyland said...

I have to admit to reading TBOLT a second time. And that reading enriched the experience even more. I also must admit that what drew me to your writing in the first place was a remainder copy of TKK and then searching out a first edition of EDT and then, well of course, the rest.

TBOLT was as much of a departure as Nocturnes, and to some extent, Bad Men (in the sense of two of the novels having degrees of difference from the Parker novels... and TBOLT a total departure.) I view those differences as being a signpost to depth of talent.

I found TBOLT as energizing and original as any of the rest... and then some.

It seems,in light of your body of work, and the obvious depth of imagination and quality of thought, that the nomination (and the awarding of the prize) is well overdue.

Tim said...

Congratulations on the nomination!
That's great news--and well deserved.

Sue Grafton has said that some readers have approached her and say they
love her books, but will ask her if she had ever thought about writing a real novel--or serious fiction...something like that, anyway. Unbelievable!

I'm a glass is half full kind of person, but the water in the glass is always filthy. sigh

Keep up the great work!

JT Ellison said...

No one, and no book, could deserve the recognition more. I'm rooting for you!

Stuart Young said...

John, congratulations on the nomination. For some reason I always think of you having won lots of awards.

As for proper novels, I read an interview with Jonathan Kellerman (I think it was in Crime Time) and he spoke about how people would tell him he was such a good writer that he should write a literary novel. To which he would reply, "You mean write the same thing as I do now but without a plot?"

hrhg said...

How lovely for you. Congrats on getting some recognition on your home soil. Readers I'm sure you have, but the literary recognition when you write outside the canon of "Irish literature" must give a warm fuzzy feeling, mustn't it?

hrhg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

Dear John
my name is John Moore , I'm Irish , I make movies and i totally get what you mean when you say it's nice to be nominated for anything in your home country.
Before I rest in the cold cold ground i want to see "The Book of Lost Things" made into a film....assuming ( and I hope it's not a rude assumption) that you would like to see it made into a film.
John Moore

Joe said...

Congrats, it's always cool to be recognised for one's abilities :o)

As you know I absolutely loved the book.
Take care and all the best.

PS I have a rather scary audition coming up in the next couple of weeks so how about you hold thumbs for me, and I'll hold thumbs for you.

John said...

Wow, John Moore! Flattered that you know my books. It's nice to see an Irish director who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty with a little populist entertainment, and who makes such good-looking films. Long may you run . . .