Monday, 9 June 2014

Around the world in six books

Considering the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014.

For the past few years I've been reading a lot of literature in translation and also taking part in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, last year I took part in a Readers' Day based on the prize but this year got a little more glitzy!

One of the reading groups I belong to was approached by The Booktrust and asked to read the six shortlisted titles and then answer some questions on each one. These answers were then collated in to two posts on the prize website. These can be found here and here.

The six books were:

  • A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mangarelli, trans. Sam Taylor
  • Revenge by Yoko Ogawa, trans. Stephen Snyder
  • The Iraqi Christ by Hasan Blassim, trans. Jonathan Wright
  • A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. Don Bartlett
  • The Mussel Feast by Birgit Venderbeke, trans. Jamie Bulloch
  • Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami, trans. Allison Markin Powell
All were interesting reads but my favourite was Strange Weather in Tokyo and this is a book I've already recommended to lots of other readers both at work and home.

On the prize ceremony night three of us made it to the Royal Institute of Architects for the main event and it was a lovely evening complete with champagne and canapes themed to the countries represented on the short list.

The chair of the judges, Boyd Tonkin, gave a brilliant speech debunking the myth that 'no one reads books in translation' - on the day the prize was awarded the top 3 bestselling fiction titles were translations as was the bestselling non fiction book!

The winner on the night was The Iraqi Christ which was my least favourite of the six titles but the author and translators were so nice that I can't be too upset!  What was nice is that for the first time in the history of the prize a special mention was given to a book (The Mussel Feast) and this was my second favourite book from one of my favourite publishers.

I love being a part of this prize but have everything crossed that in 2015 a woman will finally win!

Many thanks to Booktrust and The Writers Centre Norwich for letting me be a part of this shadowing group, but again this blog is fully independent and was not a condition of taking part.

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