The winner of this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced last night as Aharon Appelfeld, with his Holocaust novel, Blooms of Darkness (Alma Books); translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green.
Appelfeld’s novel, which is based loosely on his own experiences of the Holocaust as a boy, was the overall winner in a shortlist of six titles which included great Italian novelist, Umberto Eco and Yan Lianke’s banned-in-China novel, Dream of Ding Village (Constable and Robinson).
Aharon Appelfeld, who at eighty-years-old becomes the oldest winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, was in London to collect the winner’s cheque of £10,000 which he shares equally with his translator Jeffrey Green. Taking to the podium at the event in the Royal Institute of British Architects, Appelfeld delivered the following statement:
Blooms of Darkness is a work of fiction that includes my personal experience during the Second World War. I wanted to explore the darkest places of human behaviour and to show that even there, generosity and love can survive; that humanity and love can overcome cruelty and brutality. It is a joy to win the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize alongside Jeffrey M Green – he is a highly professional translator and I love his work.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize – for which the Booktrust act as custodian – is a UK Prize awarded annually to a work of contemporary fiction in translation by a living author, which has been published during the previous year. The judges for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize were Boyd Tonkin, (Literary Editor of The Independent), Nick Barley (Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival), Xiaolu Guo (novelist, short story writer and filmmaker), Hephzibah Anderson (broadcaster, freelance critic and feature writer) and Jon Cook (Professor of Literature and Director of the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts at the University of East Anglia; Chair of Arts Council England, East).
On their choice of winner Prize judge, Hephzibah Anderson comments:
Jeffrey M Green’s incantatory translation from the Hebrew does ample justice to a novel that meditates on the imagination, memory and language itself. As the relationship between Hugo and Mariana evolves, this deceptively simple narrative does something extraordinary, carrying the reader to a liminal territory in which deep sensuality exists alongside unfathomable brutality.
For further details, including a brief bio on winning author Aharon Appelfeld, please visit the Booktrust website.