Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 14:32 UK

Debut novel wins lucrative prize

Michael Thomas
Man Gone Done is a story about the American dream gone awry

American writer Michael Thomas has won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award - the world's most lucrative literary prize - for his debut novel.

Man Gone Down was chosen from a shortlist of eight novels to scoop the 100,000 euros (£85,000) prize.

Writer and judge James Ryan praised Thomas for his "enthralling voice and startling insight".

The novel depicts the difficulty of attaining the American dream for an African-American.

It follows an unnamed 30-something man, penniless and estranged from his wife and three children, who has four days to keep his family afloat.

"One of the things I hope are taken away from reading the book is there are different American dreams," Thomas told Reuters.

"One being materialism, which this narrator does not really have - it's more the African-American striving for freedom.

"If not from slavery then from segregation, if not from segregation then from stereotype, if not from stereotype then from glass ceilings and redline mortgages."

Thomas, who was born and raised in Boston, was selected from 145 books nominated by libraries from 41 countries.

The prize is open to novels published in the preceding year, written in any language by authors of any nationality, provided the book has been published in, or translated into, English.

Other finalists included The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen, Ravel by Jean Echenoz, and Animal's People by Indra Sinha.

Also shortlisted were The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland, and The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt.

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