The shortlist for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was published this morning, revealing a final line up of six titles which span two centuries of history, and a geography that reaches from Iceland through western Europe, all the way to the Far East.
The biggest name on this year’s shortlist is undoubtedly Italian author Umberto Eco, who makes the cut with his anti-Semitism historical novel, The Prague Cemetery. Eco’s novel is deep and involving and highly controversial, but perhaps not as controversial as another title to make the shortlist – Yan Lianke’s banned-in-China, Dream of Ding Village, which offers a harrowing account of the Aids controversy that blighted the Henan Province during the 1990s. Icelandic myth is represented on the shortlist in the form of Sjón’s From the Mouth of the Whale, while the plight of the Jews in the ghettos during WW2 is explored, in Aharon Appelfeld’s Blooms of Darkness. The only woman to make this year’s shortlist is German author Judith Hermann with her novel of interconnected stories, Alice.
The 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist in full, is as follows:
- Alice by Judith Hermann (The Clerkenwell Press); translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo
- Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld (Alma Books); translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
- Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke (Constable and Robinson); translated from the Chinese by Cindy Carter
- From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón (Telegram Books); translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
- New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani (Dedalus); translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
- The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (Harvill Secker); translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon
Awarded to a living author who has had a translated book published in the UK during the past year, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, which is administrated by the Booktrust is one of the UK’s most prestigious awards for translated fiction. With five of the six shortlisted titles coming from the smaller presses, this year’s shortlist is a particular triumph for independent publishers.
Speaking about this year’s shortlist, 2012 Prize judge, the freelance critic, feature writer, broadcaster Hephzibah Anderson, said:
The judging process so far has been an epic and exhilarating road trip – a journey crossing centuries and genres as well as continents. But as our shortlist of six titles shows, foreign fiction broadens the mind in a way that foreign travel can never match. Together, these authors and translators will enrich your world, taking you into the hearts and souls of people whose stories would otherwise be unimaginable. At the same time, they reinforce our shared humanity: while life’s flavours, scents and textures are pungently local, its largest – and smallest – moments often prove universal.
The overall winner of the Prize, who along with the translator will receive a shared cheque for £10,000, will be announced at an award ceremony on Monday 14th May, at the Royal Institue of British Architects in central London. For further details please visit the Booktrust website.