Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2009
The longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2009 has been announced.
The sixteen titles are:
- My Father’s Wives, José Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn from the Portuguese (Arcadia Books)
- The Director, Alexander Ahndoril, translated by Sarah Death from the Swedish (Portobello Books)
- Voice Over, Céline Curiol, translated by Sam Richard from the French (Faber)
- The White King, György Dragomán, translated by Paul Olchvary from the Hungarian (Doubleday)
- Night Work, Thomas Glavinic translated by John Brownjohn from the German (Canongate)
- Beijing Coma, Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew from the Chinese (Chatto & Windus)
- The Siege, Ismail Kadare, translated by David Bellos from the French of Jusuf Vrioni (Canongate)
- Homesick, Eshkol Nevo, translated by Sondra Silverston from the Hebrew (Chatto & Windus)
- The Diving Pool, Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder from the Japanese (Harvill Secker)
- The Armies, Evelio Rosero, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish (Maclehose Press)
- The Blue Fox, Sjón, translated by Victoria Cribb from the Icelandic (Telegram)
- Novel 11, Book 18, Dag Solstad, translated by Sverre Lyngstad from the Norwegian (Harvill Secker)
- How The Soldier Repairs The Gramophone, Saša Stanišić, translated by Anthea Bell from the German, (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
- A Blessed Child, Linn Ullmann, translated by Sarah Death from the Norwegian (Picador)
- The Informers, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish (Bloomsbury)
- Friendly Fire, A.B. Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman from the Hebrew (Halban)
The judges for this year’s prize are:
- Linda Grant, novelist
- Kate Griffin, ACE literature officer
- Fiona Sampson, editor, Poetry Review
- Mark Thwaite, blogger, www.readysteadybook.com
- Boyd Tonkin, literary editor, The Independent
The shortlist will be announced at the end of March.
Personally, I quite like this longlist. There’s a number of books tucked in there that I’ve been wanting to read for a while, notably Sjón’s The Blue Fox and Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s The Informers. There are others that I’ve had on my shelves for a while – Céline Curiol’s Voice Over, which I’ve started twice to find myself never in the mood for, and György Dragomán’s The White King, a book I’ve twice heard him read from, but never got round to actually starting myself. (Dragomán, incidentally, is responsible for translating Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting into Hungarian.)
There are two that I’ve read – Yoko Ogawa’s The Diving Pool and Evelio Rosero’s The Armies (linked to above). The first I enjoyed to a degree, notable mention going to the title novella, but I wasn’t too impressed by the latter. Another, How The Soldier Repairs The Gramophone, by an author I’ve also twice heard readings from (both times fun and interesting), failed to interest me enough to read on to the end, although I wouldn’t rule out a second chance.
The best thing about such a list is that new writers are introduced. I’ve been aware of Alexander Ahndoril, Linn Ullmann, and Thomas Glavinic but have never been compelled to rush into their work. Eshkol Nevo, with Homesick, is a new name to me, and one I look forward to investigating.
I would make mention of the books that I thought may make the list but didn’t, but then most of the ones that I had in mind I hadn’t read anyway. I must confess a certain surprise at not seeing Muriel Barberry’s The Elegance Of The Hedgehog, translated by Alison Anderson from the French (Gallic Books) and to the absence of any Dalkey Archive titles, given that their Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen scooped the prize last year.
As usual, though, it’s beg-borrow-steal time, in order to sample the lot.
February 25, 2009