Fabulous Fiction Firsts #213

the twinthe twin

The Twin, a debut novel by Gerbrand Bakker quietly beats out a number of seasoned writers and front runners (see the shortlist) to win the 2010 International Impac Dublin Literary Award - the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe, and is open to books written in any language.

When his twin brother Henk dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return to the small family farm. He resigns himself to taking over his brother's role and spending the rest of his days working in the remote Dutch countryside. Now 37 years later, Helmer finally is able to move his invalid father so that he could make a home for himself. Then the woman once engaged to Henk appears and asks Helmer to take in her troubled eighteen-year-old son.

"Ostensibly a novel about the countryside, The Twin ultimately poses difficult questions about solitude and the possibility of taking life into one's own hands. It chronicles a way of life which has resisted modernity, a world culturally apart, and yet laden with familiar longing."

$31,000 of the $123,000 prize will go to David Colmer whose superb translation allows the novel's authentic voice to be heard by English readers.

NPR was first to recognize The Twin by placing it on a list of Best Foreign Fiction of 2009.

School Library Journal picked it as one of the Best Adult Books for High School Students 2009.

For the budding novelists out there, take heart. This is the third year in a row that a debut novel has won.