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Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist announced

13th April 2012

The shortlist for the 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has been announced, with six titles in contention for the GBP 10,000 award.

Inaugurated in 1990, it is the only major British literary award devoted to fiction in translation, with the prize money split equally between the author and the translator.

This year's shortlist comprises a diverse array of works, including Judith Hermann's Alice, a series of interconnecting narratives exploring the notion of loss, and Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery, which explores the idea of one man being behind multiple global atrocities.

They are up against Diego Marani's New Finnish Grammar, which tells the story of an amnesiac found during World War II by a Finnish doctor, and Sjon's From the Mouth of the Whale, about a poet banished to a desolate island in the mid-17th century.

Completing the shortlist is Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld, in which a young Jewish boy hides from the Nazis in a brothel, and Yan Lianke's The Dream of Ding Village, a novel exposing the Aids blood-contamination scandal in China's Henan province that was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize.

Writer Hephzibah Anderson, a member of the judging panel, said whittling down the longlist to six titles was 'an epic and exhilarating road trip' and noted that foreign fiction broadens the mind in a way that foreign travel cannot replicate.

'The books will enrich your world, taking you into the hearts and souls of people whose stories would otherwise be unimaginable,' she explained.

'At the same time, they reinforce our shared humanity: while life's flavours, scents and textures are pungently local, its largest - and smallest - moments often prove universal.'

The judging panel also includes novelist Xiaolu Guo, Independent literary editor Boyd Tonkin, University of East Anglia literature professor Jon Cook and Nick Barley, Edinburgh International Book Festival director.

The winner of the GBP 10,000 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize will be announced on May 14th.

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