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Retiring from writing?

22 June 2015

The brilliant British author Jim Crace has just won the International 2015 IMPAC Dublin Award, which at €100,000 is the world's largest literary prize for a single work published in English. His 2013 novel Harvest, published by Picador, won out of a shortlist of ten novels. The IMPAC receives its nominations from public libraries in cities around the globe and recognises both writers and translators.

Crace said: "It has been an overwhelming surprise and a delight to discover that my latest book has won the IMPAC Dublin award... And now, thanks to the further generosity of a whole wide-world network of book-loving strangers, Harvest has struck lucky again - it will be included in the distinguished and 20-year-long list of fiction honoured by this truly international and discriminating award. No writer could hope for more than that.'

There are two curious things about this win. The IMPAC Award may not happen again. The Award, funded entirely this year by Dublin City Council, is seeking new sponsorship. Impac, a productivity company, ceased trading in the mid-2000s, and a trust fund for the Award ran dry last year. With the Folio Prize and the Samuel Johnson Prize also looking for new sponsors, it may be tricky finding one.

The other notable thing is that Jim Crace, a literary writer whose books are widely admired amongst the literati, has announced his retirement from writing. Will this extraordinary win change his mind, or will he go out in a blaze of glory? It is the richest award in the English-speaking world but not enough to live on for ever. The Award doesn't have a big publicity budget so will not create a massive stir or find many new readers. Crace said 'Retiring from writing is not to retire from life, but retiring from writing is to avoid the inevitable bitterness which a writing career is bound to deliver as its end product, in almost every case.' Just maybe he'll change his mind about that now - and we'll get another book from this amazing author.