It was an exciting start to a dreary morning, as the shortlist for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced earlier today. Taken from the original longlist of 15, which included big ‘hitter’s such as Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones (Chatto & Windus) and Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor (Harvill Secker), the final six who emerged as victors are:
- Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel (MacLehose Press), translated from the French by John Cullen.
- The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck (Harvill Secker), translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
- Fists by Pietro Grossi (Pushkin Press), translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis.
- Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou (Serpent’s Tail), translated from the French by Helen Stevenson.
- The Dark Side of Love by Rafik Schami (Arabia Books), translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
- Chowringhee by Sankar (Atlantic Books), translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha.
Awarded to a living author who has had a translated book published in the UK during the past year, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious awards for translated fiction. Referring to this year’s shortlist finalists Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor of The Independent and Chair of the judging panel, had the following to say:
These books’ settings stretch from Congo to Berlin to Calcutta. Their forms range from a linked trio of sporting stories to an eerie historical fable and a multi-generational family saga. What unites them is the compelling power of their authors’ imagination – and the commanding skill of their translators. The judges hope that more readers than ever before will join them on this exhilarating global trip.
Personally, I’ve only read one from this shortlist so far – Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou (you can read my 4/5 review HERE) – but I’m hugely excited by all of the others. Not only does the shortlist contain two titles from my most favourite of translators, Anthea Bell (which must, to some degree, reflect her level of competence), but all but one of the titles on the shortlist is from an indy publisher, which has to hail some kind victory for the ‘little guy’, especially when so many ‘epic’ titles from the bigger publishers were in the running.
Thankfully, the overall winner isn’t announced until Thursday 13th May 2010 at an awards ceremony at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, so there’s still some time for me to tick off a few more of the titles in the shortlist that I haven’t read. And I hope you will join me, in reading at least one title from the shortlist, if you haven’t done so already.
My congratulations to all Foreign Fiction Prize finalists and their publishers, and good luck to all of you in May.