Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012 longlist revealed

The longlist for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced early today, revealing another diverse selection of globe-spanning titles which have been translated into the English language.

Topping this year’s selection is Haruki Murakami’s blockbuster 1Q84 (Books 1 & 2), and Yan Lianke’s powerful banned-in-China novel, Dream of Ding Village, which fictionalises the AIDS scandal which has affected the Henen Province in recent years. Steve Sem-Sandberg’s epic Holocaust novel The Emperor of Lies also makes the longlist, along with Sjón’s mythical Iclandic epic, From the Mouth of the Whale.

2012 also spells good news for the smaller independent publishers, whose titles make up almost half of the titles selected for this year’s longlist.

Open to foreign language titles published in English translation in the UK during the previous year, the fifteen titles in this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist – which this year covers thirteen languages in translation – is as follows (all links lead directly to publisher’s website):

Funded by Arts Council England, and administrated by the Booktrust, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is the only UK prize dedicated to translated fiction. It is also the only prize where the translator is given the same level of recognition as the author, with the winning cheque for £10,000 being shared equally between both.

Speaking of this year’s longlist, first time judge and Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Nick Barley, had the following to say:

From 98 entries we have selected a longlist of 15 novels that reflect the fast-growing appetite for high quality fiction from around the world. From Judith Hermann’s succinct book of linked stories to the 1100-page tome by Peter Nadas, this year’s list couldn’t be more diverse – both in sheer scale and in subject matter. And while it has been a strong year for the established literary imprints, I was delighted that several titles from smaller independent publishers also shone out. Among these 15 titles there’s a treasure trove of unforgettable treats for readers.

The longlist will now be reduced to a shortlist of six, which will be announced on Thursday 12 April. The overall winner of the Prize will be revealed at an awards ceremony in central London on Monday 14 May, at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

For further information – including details of the all judges involved in this year’s Prize – please visit the Booktrust website. You can also follow related chatter on Twitter, using the #IFFP hashtag.


Rob’s Reaction: Well, what a thrilling longlist this year, and one which covers a staggering 13 languages in translation. My coverage of translated literature on RobAroundBooks has been severely lacking of late, and it’ll come as no surprise – especially to those who regularly visit – that I have not posted reviews of any of these titles. However, that’s not to say that I’m not familiar with most of them.

For me there are no real surprises coming from this year’s longlist announcement. I wholly expected to see Murakami there, along with Sjón and Steve Sem-Sandberg (his novel is too important to be ignored). I’m also thrilled to see that Peter Nadas making the longlist with his monster 1,100+ page tome. It’s also great to see Peirene Press represented in the longlist again this year. They deserve yearly recognition for their dedication to translated fiction in the UK, and the quality of their published literature. I only hope that they can get further than they did last year.

The big surprises for me come not from what’s on this year’s longlist, but rather from what isn’t. Former IFFP winner Per Petterson (2006 for his novel, Out Stealing Horses), who made the shortlist last year with I Curse The River of Time, didn’t make it this year. And more surprising is the fact that Maclehose Press who ALWAYS have a strong showing in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, have not a single title represented in 2012. This saddens me, especially given the strength and quality of translated titles that have come from Maclehose Press in the past year. I’m also disappointed that ‘new-kid-on-the-block’, And Other Stories hasn’t shown on the longlist, with Juan Pablo Villalobos’ brillant novel, Down The Rabbit Hole (assuming of course that it was put forward for consideration in the first place).

Regardless of what is or isn’t on the IFFP longlist this year, it’s still a strong and exciting selection, and I’m thrilled with the judges choices (I’m also particularly thrilled with the inclusion of one of the judges this year – Nick Barley) . I opened this reaction piece by saying that through inaction I haven’t read any of this year’s longlisted titles, but I’m aiming to make amends by covering as many as I can before the shortlist is announced in just over a month (a mean feat given that at least three of the longlisted titles are tome-like). I have an announcement to make about this in another post, so until then let’s just bask in the glory of the 2012 IFFP longlist. Good luck to all longlisted authors, translators and publishers.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. A great list of books, and I’m hoping to knock off a few more in the not-too-distant future 😉

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      I look forward to your reviews Tony. I know you’ve reviewed some of these already, sou’ve a bug ‘up’ on me.

  2. Great Post, currently reading From the Mouth of a whale, but Professor Anderson’s night appeals immensely as does Hate:

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Thanks :). That’s the thing about the longlist isn’t it? Too many attractive titles.

  3. I own the Murakami and the Sjon and plan to get the Eco so I’m on my way to having an opinion on this list … once I read at least one of those. 😉

  4. Rob. Hope you are doing well. Thanks again for the great coverage you are providing for short fiction.

    It would be great if you can cover the Commonwealth Short Story Prize this year. I was lucky to win it last year for the Asian region and it was treat to read and listen to works being performed from around the world.

    Thanks again for your work. Love it.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      Thank you so much for prompting me on this because the thought of covering the Commonwealth Short Story Prize never occurred to me. I will now be doing so, of course.


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