The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2008 – Longlist
It must be a revolving door of opinions at the offices of Arts Council England, as they are either pulling funding from the subsidisation of translation or, in fact, promoting it, as per their literature policy. For today, they have announced the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2008, in association with Champagne Taittinger.
The longlist comprises of seventeen books, whittled down from over ninety, all looking to scoop the £10,000 prize, divided equally between author and translator. Previous winners have included Orhan Pamuk, Milan Kundera, and José Saramago.
The longlisted titles are:
- The Yacoubian Building, Alaa al Aswany (Humphrey Davies, Arabic, Fourth Estate)
- Book of Words, Jenny Erpenbeck (Susan Bernofsky, German, Portobello Books)
- The Moon Opera, Bi Feiyu (Howard Goldblatt, Chinese, Telegram Books)
- Castorp, Pawel Huelle (Antonia Lloyd Jones, Polish, Serpent’s Tail)
- Agamemnon’s Daughter, Ismail Kadare (David Bellos, French, Canongate)
- Let It Be Morning, Sayed Kashua (Miriam Shlesinger, Hebrew, Atlantic Books)
- Measuring The World, Daniel Kehlmann (Carol Brown Janeway, German, Quercus)
- Gregorius, Bengt Ohlsson (Silvester Mazzarella, Swedish, Portobello Books)
- Shutterspeed, Erwin Mortier (Ina Rilke, Dutch, Harvill Secker)
- The Past, Alan Pauls (Nick Caistor, Spanish, Harvill Secker)
- Rivers Of Babylon, Peter Pist’anek (Peter Petro, Slovak, Garnett Press)
- Delirium, Laura Restrepo (Natasha Wimmer, Spanish, Harvill Secker)
- The Model, Lars Saabye Christensen (Don Barlett, Norwegian, Arcadia Books)
- Bahia Blues, Yasmina Traboulsi (Polly McLean, French, Arcadia Books)
- The Way Of The Women, Marlene van Niekerk (Michiel do Heyns, Afrikaans, Little, Brown)
- Omega Minor, Paul Verhaeghen (Paul Verhaeghen, Dutch, Dalkey Archive Press)
- Montano, Enrique Vilas-Matas (Jonathan Dunne, Spanish, Harvill Secker)
The bracketed information includes translator, original language, and publisher respectively.
Here’s the blurb:
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize celebrates an exceptional work of fiction by a living author which has been translated into English from any other language and published in the United Kingdom in the last year. This year’s longlist reflects the international scope of the prize and includes writers working in Hebrew, Afrikaans, Chinese and Arabic. Among the longlisted authors is Ismail Kadare, the inaugural Man Booker International Prize winner.
The judges for this year’s award are:
- Boyd Tonkin, literary editor of The Independent;
- Abdulrazak Gurnah, writer and teacher;
- Florence Noiville, literary editor of Le Monde; and
- Kate Griffin, Arts Council England literature officer.
Antonia Byatt of the Arts Council England had this to say on the longlist:
“This year’s long list is a fantastic demonstration of the rich range and quality of fiction in translation being published in Britain today. It’s wonderful to see so many languages represented from all round the world: a feast for readers and quite a challenge for the judges in making a decision!”
Boyd Tonkin discusses the list at the Independent, mentioning that the titles will be reduced to a shortlist of six by the end of February, with the eventual winner being announced in May.
Aside from the slight amusement of Paul Verhaeghen being in with a chance to take the whole pot for himself, it’s an interesting list as I’m only aware of a handful of the titles, and have read none of them. It’s also interesting to see Arcadia having two titles there, given the recent withdrawal of a quarter of their Arts Council funding.
But regardless of who wins, the joy is in having new names brought to your attention and there are many new ones here. I’ll be hoping to review as many of these titles as I can get my hands on in the run up to the shortlist, just so I can nod my head vigorously in agreement with the decision or invoke a pox on the judges otherwise.
EDIT: Reviews will be linked to as and when they appear on booklit.
January 25, 2008