According to a press release, Giramondo Publishing, Fitzcarraldo Editions and New Directions have announced the shortlist for The Novel Prize, the biennial award for a book-length work of literary fiction written in English by published and unpublished writers around the world.
The shortlist of eight books, selected from nearly 700 entries worldwide, is as follows:
Tell by Jonathan Buckley
Forever Valley by Darcie Dennigan
Aurora Australis by Marie Doezema
Palimpsest by Florina Enache
The Passenger Seat by Vijay Khurana
It Lasts Forever and Then It’s Over by Anne de Marcken
Moon Over Bucharest by Valer Popa
Anonymity Is Life by Sola Saar
Two of the authors on the shortlist, Florina Enache and Valer Popa, are of Romanian origin, an unprecedented occurrence.
Florina Enache’s Palimpsest, a novel set in a country oppressed by a totalitarian regime, depicts the days leading up to the mass celebration of the National Day, in which citizens are ordered to the capital city to take part in the great spectacle. Told in three female voices, the novel plays witness to fear, uncertainty and brutality, but also to generosity and friendship. Florina Enache’s debut collection of stories An-Tan-Tiri Mogodan was shortlisted in the 2020 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for new writing. She was born and raised in Romania, where she studied English language and literature and worked as a translator, and in 2005 she emigrated to Australia.
Valer Popa’s Moon Over Bucharest charts Romania’s volatile history through the latter half of the twentieth century. Twenty-four years after the fall of Ceaușescu’s dictatorship, a feckless young accountant in Bucharest becomes fascinated by Mrs Irina Enescu, a reclusive upstairs neighbour. As the accountant’s life begins to disintegrate, he retreats into his imagination, envisioning her life through the Second World War, shaped by the country’s political troubles. Valer Popa was born in Bucharest, Romania. A graduate of Cornell University’s MFA program in fiction, he now teaches creative writing and lives in Chicago with his family.
Established in 2020, the Novel Prize offers US$10,000 to the winner in the form of an advance against royalties, as well as simultaneous publication in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, and North America.
The final winner will be announced in February, and the winning title will be published in early 2024.