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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. Only two winners have been translated from non-European languages: The Sorrow of War and The Iraqi Christ.

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 by Hassan Blassim, 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'.

In 2015, 111 books were submitted in 28 languages. The longlist was announced on 12th March, with the shortlist following on 9th April. The winner, announced on 27th May, was Jenny Erpenbeck for The End of Days.

This year's judges are journalist Rosie Goldsmith, translator Antonia Lloyd Jones, lecturer Dr Richard Mansell, author Helen Oyeyemi and Independent journalist Boyd Tonkin.

2015 shortlist

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His ...
(Hardback)
Haruki Murakami; Philip Gabriel
Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning 'red pine', and Oumi, 'blue sea'...
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F: A Novel
(Hardback)
Daniel Kehlmann; Carol Brown Janeway
 
**Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015** The Friedland brothers have nothing in common. Martin is a priest with no faith. Ivan is an artist with no integrity. Eric...
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While the Gods Were Sleeping
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Erwin Mortier; Paul Vincent; David...
 
'It sounds dreadful,' I said to him one day. 'But actually the war is the best thing that ever happened to me.' Helena's mother always said she was a born...
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In the Beginning Was the Sea
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Tomas Gonzalez; Frank Wynne
 
Death in paradise: sea, sex and a sinister downward spiral on a Caribbean coast
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By Night the Mountain Burns
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Juan-Tomas Avila Laurel; Jethro Soutar
 
Exiled Equatorial Guinean writer shows the life of the native people of his West African island destroyed by distant rulers.
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The End of Days
(Hardback)
Jenny Erpenbeck; Susan Bernofsky
 
A story of the twentieth century told through the various lives of one woman: an intoxicating masterpiece of a novel that kneads Time and History like dough
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Previous Winners

2014 The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, trans. Jonathan Wright (Arabic)

  • Special mention for The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, trans. by Jamie Bulloch (German)

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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