2024 Dublin Literary Award

Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated from the original Romanian by Sean Cotter, is the winner of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award.

The award’s overview of Solenoid shows how it merges the mundane and fantastic:

Based on Cărtărescu’s own role as a high school teacher, Solenoid begins with the mundane details of a diarist’s life and quickly spirals into a philosophical account of life, history, philosophy, and mathematics. On a broad scale, the novel’s investigations of other universes, dimensions, and timelines reconcile the realms of life and art. The novel is grounded in the reality of late 1970s/early 1980s Communist Romania, including long lines for groceries, the absurdities of the education system, and the misery of family life. Combining fiction with autobiography and history, Solenoid ruminates on the exchanges possible between the alternate dimensions of life and art within the Communist present.

Erik Karl Anderson’s review for Lonesome Reader describes the fantastic aspects of the novel:

Dublin Literary Award logo

…There are solenoids buried in the foundations of certain buildings around Bucharest and these form sorts of gateways which allow him to traverse the fourth dimension. I don’t understand the science behind all this but the book possesses an internal logic which makes it convincing and also adds such fascinating mystery as it breaks the limits of reality and leads this story into some outlandish situations. It’s so entertaining and it becomes almost hypnotic as the narrator leads the reader into such curious realms….

Sponsored by Dublin City Council, the award is worth €100,000, and is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English. If the winning book has been translated, the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

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