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The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize


IFFP 2014Launched by the Independent newspaper in 1990, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is the only major British literary award devoted to fiction in translation. The winner is announced in May, preceded by a shortlist of six books and a longlist of around twelve. The judging panel is made up of five leading figures in the literary world, chaired by the former Literary Editor of the Independent, Boyd Tonkin.

The prize money of £10,000 is split equally between the author and their translator into English. In 1995, this meant the prize money went to one family, when Michael Hoffman's translation from German of The Film Explainer, written by his father, Gert, was declared the winner. So far, the only winner translated from a non-European language is The Sorrow of War, Bao Ninh's semi-autobiographical account of life during and after the Vietnam War.

The Prize was put in abeyance between 1996 and 2001, but financial support from the Arts Council saw it revived in 2002. That year, the award was, for the only time so far, made posthumously, to W G Sebald for Austerlitz. For many British readers, this was their first introduction to a writer who had been widely tipped for a Nobel Prize before his death. Two winners have, however, subsequently been made Nobel Laureates: 1993's winner, José Saramago and the inaugural winner, Orhan Pamuk.

The Iraqi ChristThe 2014 winner was The Iraqi Christ, written by Hassan Blasim and translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright.

Judge Boyd Tonkin said, 'A decade after the Western invasion and occupation of Iraq, that country's writers are exploring the brutal and chaotic aftermath of war and tyranny with ever-growing confidence. Among them, Hassan Blasim stands out for his fearless candour and rule-busting artistry. The 14 stories of The Iraqi Christ, often surreal in style but always rooted in heart-breaking truth, depict this pitiless era with deep compassion, pitch-black humour and a visionary yearning for another, better life. Jonathan Wright's translation from the Arabic captures all of their passion, their desperation and their soaring imaginative energy. The Iraqi Christ is not only the first Arabic book to win the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, but a classic work of post-war witness, mourning and revolt.'

The judes also chosen to give a special mention to The Mussel Feast, by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated from German by Jamie Bulloch. Judge Nadifa Mohamed described it as 'a tiny book that leaves a strong impression'.


 

 

 

2014 shortlist

Strange Weather in Tokyo
Hiromi Kawakami; Allison Markin Powell
 
An award-winning novel from one of Japan's most exciting literary voices: a short, simple and touching story of an unlikely love that blossoms across generations, and between seasons
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Revenge
Revenge (Paperback)
Yoko Ogawa; Stephen Snyder
 
In the tradition of classical Japanese poetic collections, the stories in this title are linked through recurring images and motifs, as each story follows on from the one before while...
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The Mussel Feast
The Mussel Feast (Paperback)
Birgit Vanderbeke; Jamie Bulloch
The German book that has shaped an entire generation. A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of...
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A Man In Love: My Struggle Book 2
Karl Ove Knausgaard; Don Bartlett
 
A book about earth-shattering experience of becoming a father, the mundane struggles of family life, ridiculously unsuccessful holidays, humiliating antenatal music classes, fights with quarrelsome neighbours, the emotional strains of...
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The Iraqi Christ
The Iraqi Christ (Paperback)
Hassan Blasim; Jonathan Wright
 
From legends of the desert to horrors of the forest, Blasim's stories blend the fantastic with the everyday, the surreal with the all-too-real.
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A Meal in Winter
A Meal in Winter (Hardback)
Hubert Mingarelli; Sam Taylor
 
A miniature masterpiece, this is the spare, stunning story of three soldiers who share a meal with their Jewish prisoner and face a chilling choice
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Previous Winners

2013: The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker, trans. David Colmer (Dutch)

2012: Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld, trans. Jeffrey Green (Hebrew)

2011: Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo, trans. Edith Grossman (Spanish)

2010: Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel; trans. John Cullen (French)

2009: The Armies by Evelio Rosero; trans. Anne McLean (Spanish)

2008: Omega Minor by Paul Verhaegen; trans. by the author (Dutch)

2007: The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa: trans. Daniel Hahn (Portuguese)

2006: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson; trans. Anne Born (Norwegian)

2005: Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder; trans. Frank Wynne (French)

2004: Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas; trans. Anne McLean (Spanish)

2003: The Visit of the Royal Physician - Per Olov Enquist; trans. Tiina Nunnally (Swedish)
2002: Austerlitz by W G Sebald; trans. Anthea Bell (German)

1996-2001: No award

1995: The Film Explainer by Gert Hoffman; trans. Michael Hofman (German)

1994: The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh; trans. Phanh Thanh Hao (Vietnamese)

1993: The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago; trans. Giovanni Pontiero (Portuguese)

1992: The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys; trans. Patricia Clancy (French)

1991: Immortality by Milan Kundera; trans. Peter Kussi (Czech)

1990: The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk; trans. Victoria Holbrook (Turkish)

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