Sjón chosen as winner of 2012 ‘Shadow’ Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

If you’ve been following RobAroundBooks these past few weeks then you will know that I, along with others (details below), have been ‘shadow judging’ this year’s official Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. We read, reviewed and mulled over the original 15 title longlist, before deciding on our own shadow shortlist of six. With the official Independent Foreign Fiction Prize winner for 2012 being announced in London tomorrow (14th May), the time has come for us to reveal our own ‘shadow winner’. After a long consultation between judges (where ne’er a blow was dealt :)), the winner of the 2012 ‘Shadow’ Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is:

From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón; translated by Victoria Cribb
(Telegram Books)

Speaking of this year’s winner, chair of the Shadow IFFP Jury Stuart Allen, had the following to say:

All of us [the judges] felt entranced by the writing and by Sjón’s voice. Through Jonas’ eyes, the writer captured 17th-century Iceland so well, and this was helped by Victoria Cribb’s translation which, through its usage of archaic vocabulary and grammatical forms, gave it the feel of a book that had just been unearthed, not written.

I concur, From the Mouth of the Whale is a delightful novel. It may take some getting into at first, but once one is engaged with it one finds oneself transported to a truly magical world; one that becomes seared in the reader’s memory. A worthy winner indeed, and one for which the translator should be equally applauded.

To recap, the judges for this year’s inaugural ‘Shadow’ Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, were Stuart Allen (Winstonsdad Dad), Lisa Hill (ANZ Litlovers), Simon Quicke (Inside Books), Gary Moon (The Parrish Lantern), Mark Staniforth (Eleutherophobia) and Robert Burdock (RobAroundBooks).

Remember, the official winner is announced tomorrow so if you’re keen to know the result as soon as it becomes available, then be sure to keep a close eye on the #iffp hashtag on Twitter, and on the Booktrust website.

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).

Comments

  1. I agree that the translator deserves a lot of credit for this one. Great choice!

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Absolutely Kristen. They’re the often unsung heroes in translated fiction.
      Warmest
      Rob

  2. I have this as my next-to-read book. Hope it’s as good as you say..

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      I’ll admit it takes some getting into at first Maryom, but persevere with it and you will be rewarded.
      Enjoy
      Warmest
      Rob

  3. I have only read two from the list but one was your winner and a very worthy one it is too. He has as new book out soon. Can’t wait…

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Hi Will,
      Yeah Telegram asked me if I wanted a copy of Sjón’s new book, but as yet it hasn’t landed. Must admit to putting From the Mouth of the Whale to the side for a bit, but when it made the IFFP and the’shadow’ shortlist I picked it up again. I’m glad I did because, as you know yourself, it turns out to be not too shabby at all.
      Warmest
      Rob

  4. stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)
    says:

    Victoria was lovely she said she had translated five of his books already and knew we’d given her the shadow prize so that was good ,all the best stu

  5. I’m so glad Sjón was chosen for the ‘Shadow’ Prize! From the Mouth of the Whale made it onto more than one shortlist this year for good reason: it’s a fabulous book. I agree, Rob, that it takes a little while to get into – and the reading is challenging – but all the references are fascinating.

    One tip, if I may, for first time readers: don’t attempt this novel on an e-reader. My first go-round was on a Kindle and it was incredibly frustrating. This is definitely a book that belongs between traditional covers.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Tolmsted, funny you should mention that tip, because I thought exactly the same when reading it, although I only read the printed version.
      Thanks for stopping by
      Warmest
      Rob

  6. Having mentioned it on Twitter, I may as well come clean here and didn’t like this book at all. Having been warned about the difficulty of getting into it, I persevered till p123, more or less half way, before I decided to quit so I think I gave it a fair try. It just isn’t one for me.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      Hi Mary,
      Sorry to hear that From the Mouth of the Whale didn’t work from you. I’m the first to admit it’s a difficult one to get into, but I reckon by p.123 if you haven’t got into it then it definitely isn’t for you. Well done for persevering though 🙂
      Warmest
      Rob

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