Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prize Gives an Author Some Time to Exhale
By LARRY ROHTER writing in The New York Times, Published: June 22, 2009

Even before the unexpected announcement came this month, Michael Thomas had enjoyed a run of good luck with “Man Gone Down,” his first novel. Published in 2007 in paperback by Black Cat, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, it got strong reviews, was named to several “10 Best Books” lists that year, including that of The New York Times Book Review, and is now in its fourth printing, with 65,000 copies shipped.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Michael Thomas, author of the novel “Man Gone Down.”

Pic right by Jason Clarke
Michael Thomas, center, author of “Man Gone Down,” with Eibhlin Byrne, Lord Mayor of Dublin, and Christopher Houghton of the Impac Dublin prize committee.
But short of being selected for Oprah’s book club, winning the International Impac Dublin Literary Award may be the best thing that could happen to a new voice like Mr. Thomas. The prize is worth 100,000 euros, or about $138,000, and coincides with publication of “Man Gone Down” in Britain. The announcement immediately generated inquiries from foreign publishing houses.
“I kind of wrote that in a fit,” Mr. Thomas, 41, who teaches literature and creative writing at Hunter College, said of the novel. “I had a bunch of jobs. I was teaching four classes a semester and two or three in the summer, and working construction and coaching soccer and baseball and trying to build my house. I don’t think it is something I could replicate.”
“Man Gone Down” focuses on four increasingly desperate days in the life of an unnamed black narrator living in Brooklyn, whose marriage seems to be falling apart. Brilliant and troubled, he is on the eve of his 35th birthday but is broke, struggling not to lapse back into alcoholism and burdened by the knowledge he has fallen short of the promise he seemed to show as a younger man.
The full report at NYT.

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