The majority of people who regularly read works of translated fiction, will be aware that last Saturday (02/03/2013) the longlist for the 2013 International Foreign Fiction Prize was published.
This Prize honours the best work of fiction by a living author, that has been translated into English from any other language and published in the UK. Uniquely, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize gives both the winning author and the translator equal status, with each receiving £5,000. The prize was inaugurated by British newspaper The Independent with the first award going to the writer Orhan Pamuk and translator Victoria Holbrook for The White Castle (1990), the prize ran until 1995 before falling into abeyance. The prize was revived at the start of the new century (2000) with the support of Arts Council England, who continue to fund the award. Beginning in 2011 the administration of the prize was taken over by Booktrust, yet retains the "Independent" in it’s title. The 2012 prize was won by Blooms of Darkness, written by Aharon Appelfeld & translated by Jeffrey M. Green.
For the second year Stu from Winston’s dad has set up a shadow Jury that will attempt to post on all the books featured on the long list and, eventually, the shortlist. The jurors are Mark, Lisa, Stu, Tony and myself. The group’s aim is to review all of the books on the list in tandem with the official jury, following the same idea as Nick Barley & play our “part in helping them bring unique stories from other languages to a wider English-speaking audience.” or as Stu says:
“Reading The World One Book At A Time”
Gerbrand Bakker: The Detour (trans - David Colmer) Harvill Secker
A Dutch woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. She is a lecturer doing some research, and sets about making the farmhouse more homely. When she arrives there are ten geese living in the garden but one by one they disappear. Perhaps it's the work of a local fox.
Chris Barnard: Bundu (trans - Michiel Heyns) Alma Books
In a place near Mozambique where no one knows the boundary, drought is changing everything. Tens then hundreds of people seek refuge in a forgotten outpost where a clinic is run by lonely souls of uncertain training, nuns staunchly determined to serve. But the inundation soon becomes too much for them, and there is no help from outside
Laurent Binet: HHhH (trans - Sam Taylor) Harvill Secker
Two men have been enlisted to kill the head of the Gestapo. This is Operation Anthropoid, Prague, 1942: two Czechoslovakian parachutists sent on a daring mission by London to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich - chief of the Nazi secret services, 'the hangman of Prague', 'the blond beast', 'the most dangerous man in the Third Reich'.
Dasa Drndic: Trieste (trans - Ellen Elias-Bursac) MacLehose Press
Haya Tedeschi sits alone in Gorizia, north-eastern Italy, surrounded by a basket of photographs and newspaper clippings. Now an old woman, she waits to be reunited after sixty-two years with her son, fathered by an S.S. officer and stolen from her by the German authorities during the War as part of Himmler's clandestine 'Lebensborn
Pawel Huelle: Cold Sea Stories (trans - Antonia Lloyd-Jones) Comma Press
A student pedals an old Ukraina bicycle between striking factories, delivering bulletins, in the tumultuous first days of the Solidarity movement...
A shepherd watches, unseen, as a strange figure disembarks from a pirate ship anchored in the cove below, to bury a chest on the beach that later proves empty
“If you like crime you won’t be disappointed. The book has all the right ingredients. A murder, a gun, an inspector, suspense. But I love the story because it strays far beyond the whodunit norm. In beautifully stark language Pia Juul manages to chart the phases of bereavement.” Meike Ziervogel
Ismail Kadare: The Fall of the Stone City (trans - John Hodgson) Canongate
In September 1943, German soldiers advance on the ancient gates of Gjirokaster, Albania. It is the first step in a carefully planned invasion. But once at the mouth of the city, the troops are taken aback by a surprising act of rebellion that leaves the citizens fearful of a bloody counter-attack. Soon rumours circulate,
Khaled Khalifa: In Praise of Hatred (trans - Leri Price) Doubleday
1980s Syria, our young narrator is living a secluded life behind the veil in the vast and perfumed house of her grandparents in Aleppo. Her three aunts, Maryam, the pious one; Safaa, the liberal; and Marwa, the free-spirited one, bring her up with the aid of their ever-devoted blind servant. Soon the high walls of the family home are unable to protect her from the social and political changes outside.
Karl Ove Knausgaard: A Death in the Family (trans - Don Bartlett) Harvill Secker
Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with painful honesty about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and unpredictable father, and his bewilderment and grief on his father's death.
Laszlo Krasznahorkai: Satantango (trans - George Szirtes) Tuskar Rock
In the darkening embers of a Communist utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian town has come to a virtual standstill. Flies buzz, spiders weave, water drips and animals root desultorily in the barnyard of a collective farm. But when the charismatic Irimias - long-thought dead - returns to the commune, the villagers fall under his spell. The Devil has arrived in their midst.
Alain Mabanckou: Black Bazaar (trans - Sarah Ardizzone) Serpent's Tail
This is a riotous account of a Black dandy trying to cut it in Paris today. Buttocks Man is down on his uppers. His girlfriend, Original Colour, has cleared out of their Paris studio and run off to the Congo with a vertically challenged drummer known as The Mongrel. She's taken their daughter with her.
Diego Marani: The Last of the Vostyachs (trans - Judith Landry) Dedalus
As a child, Ivan and his father worked as forced labourers in a mine in Siberia, the father having committed some minor offence against the regime. He is then murdered in front of his young son, after which Ivan - who is a Vostyach, an imaginary ethnic group of whose language he is the last remaining speaker - is struck dumb by having witnessed his father's murder
In my interview with Andrés Neuman, he said about this book, “the novel tells a love story between two translators, Sophie and Hans, who can’t stop translating everything: words, gestures, intentions, silences. In the beginning, they don’t know that the other is a translator too, but they connect through their obsessively translating approach to reality
Orhan Pamuk: Silent House (trans - Robert Finn) Faber
In an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village near Istanbul, an old widow Fatma awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. She has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, first arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her faithful servant Recep, a dwarf and the doctor's illegitimate son
Juan Gabriel Vásquez: The Sound of Things Falling (trans - Anne McLean) Bloomsbury
No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde than disaffected young Colombian lawyer Antonio Yammara realises that his new friend has a secret, or rather several secrets. Antonio's fascination with the life of ex-pilot Ricardo Laverde begins by casual acquaintance in a seedy Bogotá billiard hall and grows until the day Ricardo receives a cassette tape in an unmarked envelope.
Enrique Vila-Matas: Dublinesque ( trans - Rosalind Harvey & Anne McLean) Harvill Secker
Samuel Riba is about to turn 60. A successful publisher in Barcelona, he has edited many of his generation's most important authors. But he is increasingly prone to attacks of anxiety - inspired partly by giving up alcohol, and partly by his worries about the future of the book. Looking for distraction, he concocts a spur-of-the-moment trip to Dublin,
A shortlist of six books will be announced on Thursday 11 April and the overall winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013 will be announced at an awards ceremony in central London in May at the Royal Institute of British Architects. I guess the Shadow Jury will scatter Emails to the corners of the planet we inhabit & come up with our own favourite'.
It will be interesting to see how our separate lists tally. Also if you want to get involved but don’t fancy scaling the complete list, The Booktrust has organised a readers project
The Readers' Project will consist of three elements:
300 Readers will shadow the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize six shortlisted titles.
The readers will gather together at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon on 18 May 2013 to vote on their favourite title, crowned the Independent Foreign Fiction Readers' Prize (IFFRP) winner, and enjoy a programme of activities, such discussion with a range of the shortlisted authors and translators, a translation duel and a talk from IFFP judge and author Elif Shafak.
A bespoke piece of research will provide a detailed study of the barriers to readers' engagement with foreign fiction and make recommendations and strategies for the trade to overcome them. The research will be promoted nationally and internationally in the second half of 2013.