Last Thursday, I attended the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize awards at the Serpentine gallery in London (currently showing an exhibition of Maria Lassnig's dreadful paintings). As you'll all know by now, Paul Verhaeghen's massive Omega Minor (Dalkey Archive Press) -- vexing for me -- won the day.
Why my problem? Well, The Liberal magazine ("devoted to a renaissance in liberal politics and the liberal arts. First founded in 1821 by the Romantic poets Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Leigh Hunt, the magazine is committed to regenerating liberalism and reinvigorating the public sphere") asked me to review whatever was the winner -- so now I have actually to read the monster!
I was privileged to have a meal with Paul and gang after the prize giving, and I'll be interviewing him here on ReadySteadyBook soon.
The prize money was £10,000, but, as Paul said in his acceptance speech, and as quoted on his blog, Babylon Blues, he is giving it all away:
... to avoid supporting the regime with more tax dollars than I already owe them, I have asked the Arts Council England to donate the money associated with the Prize, all 10,000 pounds of it, to the American Civil Liberties Union. Withholding the tax portion of those 10,000 pounds from the US Treasury will shorten the war by a mere eye-blink — its cost is currently 3,810 dollars per second — but the ACLU can use that money to great effect in their legal battles against torture, detainee abuse, and the silence surrounding it (more...)