Last week, when I was getting all excited about the Bailey’s Women’s Fiction Prize longlist, another corner of my bookish internet was animatedly discussing the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist.
‘The Prize honours the best work of fiction by a living author, which has been translated into English from any other language and published in the United Kingdom. Uniquely, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize gives the winning author and translator equal status: each receives £5,000.’
Following a number of bloggers who specialise in writing about translated fiction has led me to become more interested in it and I’d already committed myself to reading more books in translation this year than I have previously. Unfortunately, fewer books written by women are translated into English; a huge shame considering those books that do make it through are usually very good indeed.
What it was good to see when the longlist was announced was the inclusion of five female writers. Although that’s only a third of the total, it’s an increase on 2013 and 2012 when there were two. I’ve already read and reviewed two of them – Butterflies in November by Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir and Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. However, the clash between the timing of the IFFP and the Bailey’s Prize means that I can’t shadow them both; that’s where the bloggers’ shadow jury and in particular Jacqui (@JacquiWine), comes in.
Every year Stu (@stujallen) who blogs at Winston’s Dad, chairs a shadow jury for the IFFP and is joined by a variety of different bloggers. The rest of this year’s panel consists of Tony (@Tony_malone) at Tony’s Reading List, Tony (@messy_tony) at Messengers Booker, Dan (@utterbiblio) at Utterbiblio, David (@David_Heb) at Follow the Thread, Bellezza (@bellezzamjs) at Dolce Bellezza and Jacqui.
Unfortunately (I say that because she’d be superb at it), Jacqui doesn’t have her own blog and so will be guest posting her reviews on other members of the shadow jury’s blogs. Except her reviews of the books by female writers, which I’m delighted to say I’ll be hosting here throughout March and April. Jacqui’s an astute reviewer and reviewed Strange Weather in Tokyo over on Tony’s January in Japan blog earlier this year. I’m looking forward to what she, and the rest of the shadow jury, make of the longlisted books.
Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist (females first):
Julia Franck Back to Back (German; trans. Anthea Bell) Harvill Secker
Hiromi Kawakami Strange Weather in Tokyo (Japanese; trans. Allison Markin Powell) Portobello Books
Yoko Ogawa Revenge (Japanese; trans. Stephen Snyder) Harvill Secker
Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir Butterflies in November (Icelandic; trans. Brian FitzGibbon) Pushkin Press
Birgit Vanderbeke The Mussel Feast (German; trans. Jamie Bulloch) Peirene Press
Sinan Antoon The Corpse Washer (Arabic; translated by the author) Yale University Press
Hassan Blasim The Iraqi Christ (Arabic; trans. Jonathan Wright) Comma Press
Sayed Kashua Exposure (Hebrew; trans. Mitch Ginsberg) Chatto & Windus
Karl Ove Knausgaard A Man in Love (Norwegian; trans. Don Bartlett) Harvill Secker
Andrej Longo Ten (Italian; trans. Howard Curtis) Harvill Secker
Ma Jian The Dark Road (Chinese; trans. Flora Drew) Chatto & Windus
Andreï Makine Brief Loves that Live Forever (French; trans. Geoffrey Strachan) MacLehose Press
Javier Marías The Infatuations (Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) Hamish Hamilton
Hubert Mingarelli A Meal in Winter (French; trans. Sam Taylor) Portobello Books
Jón Kalman Stefánsson The Sorrow of Angels (Icelandic; trans. Philip Roughton) MacLehose Press
I have such a troubled relationship with fiction! As a Spaniard I see that the books most people read are in English, but they need to be translated because we are like the worst-English-speaking country in the EU. Same happens with films: everything is dubbed and a) it takes more time for them to open here; b) people do not learn English and will never do if you do this and c) it’s just simply not the same! So, there goes my trouble relationship, because English is such an important language…
But, obviously, what happens with other languages? I cannot read any Scandinavian language, but I do love Scandinavian crime fiction, so I see how important it is to have good translators and just circulate good literature in the EU.
Regarding your list, I have never ever heard of any of the authors or their titles, so I am doing some checking right now to see how of them could join my eternal TBR pile. Thanks, Naomi 😀
Interesting comment, Elena. I can see why people could be resistant to leaning English, it only spread because of the (long gone) empire and I can understand why that would be offensive to people.
Hope you find something you like.
Well, it’s not an English-problem in Spain, it’s more a language-problem, because in school you can only learn either English or French and let me tell you, we’re not any good at any of them!
Mostly you can learn French, Spanish or German here, although it’s been non-compulsory for several years now. I think the British are particularly lazy when it comes to learning other languages because so many people speak English. I’d love to be able to speak French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.
Here English is compulsory, but French isn’t. I studied Italian back in freshman year… It seems I’m only good at English though 😦
Great tie in you and Jacqui the female writers on this years list are all strong contenders I hope it goes to a female as there hasn’t been a female winner yet
Thanks, Stu. It would be wonderful if it went to a woman. Fingers crossed!
I can really recommend The Mussel Feast …..v haunting , and thought provoking . Must be a serious contender for the prize …….
Thanks, Helen. Once I’ve read the Bailey’s Prize longlist, I’ll slot it in somewhere. I really like Peirene’s novellas.
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