Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012 Longlist


March 7, 2012 by markstani

Below are the opening paragraphs from the fifteen books longlisted for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. They will be reduced to a shortlist on April 12, and the winner will be announced on May 14.

IQ84 (1&2) by Haruki Marukami (from Japanese; trans. Jay Rubin) (Harvill Secker)
The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janacek’s Sinfonietta – probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either.

Alice by Judith Hermann (from German; trans. Margot Bettauer Dembo) (The Clerkenwell Press)
But Misha didn’t die. Not during the night from Monday to Tuesday, nor the night from Tuesday to Wednesday; perhaps he would die Wednesday evening or later that night. Alice thought she heard it said that most people die at night.

Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld (from Hebrew; trans. Jeffrey M. Green) (Alma Books)
Tomorrow Hugo will be eleven, and Anna and Otto will come for his birthday. Most of Hugo’s friends have already been sent to distant villages, and the few remaining will be sent soon. The tension in the ghetto is great, but no one cries.

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke (from Chinese; trans. Cindy Carter) (Constable)
The dusk settles over a day in late autumn. The sun set above the East Henan plain, a blood-red ball turning the earth and sky a deep shade of crimson. As red unfurls, slowly the dusk turns to evening. Autumn grows deeper; the cold more intense. The village streets are all empty and silent.

From The Mouth of the Whale by Sjon (from Icelandic; trans. Victoria Cribb) (Telegram)
I was on my way home from the hunt. In my right hand I held my net, in my left a lantern, and in the pack slung over my back was my prey, a wild boar with tusks of steel; a colossal beast that had run amok in the lands of the north, wreaking havoc until the alarm was raised and I was charged with hunting it down.

Hate: A Romance by Tristan Garcia (from French; trans. Marion Duvert/Lorin Stein) (Faber)
William Miller, in the photos he showed me, looks like a subdued little kid, well-behaved and dull.
He was born in Amiens, in 1970, where he always told me he spent a childhood that seemed happy at the time and terribly sad in retrospect.

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani (from Finnish; trans. Judith Landry) (Dedalus)
My name is Petri Friari, I live at no. 16 Kaiser-Wilhelmstrasse, Hamburg and I work as a neurologist at the city’s university hospital.
I found this manuscript on 24 January 1946 in a trunk in the military hospital in Helsinki, together with a handkerchief with the letters S.K. embroidered onto it, three letters, a volume of the Kalevala and an empty bottle of koskenkorva.

Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki (from German; trans. Anthea Bell) (Peirene)
If only it hadn’t been for that smell! As if Doro had forgotten to change the water for the flowers, as if their stems had begun to rot overnight, filling the air with the sweet-sour aroma of decay.

Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas (from Hungarian; trans. Imre Goldstein) (Jonathan Cape)
In that memorable year when the famous Berlin wall came down, a corpse was discovered in the Tiergarten not far from the graying marble statue of Queen Louise. This happened a few days before Christmas.

Please Look After Mother by Kyung-sook Shin (from Korean; trans. Chi-Young Kim) (Weidenfeld)
It’s been one week since Mom went missing.
The family is gathered at your eldest brother Hyong-chol’s house, bouncing ideas off each other. You decide to make flyers and hand them out where Mom was last seen.

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad (from Norwegian; trans. Agnes Scott) (Harvill Secker)
It was Christmas Eve and Professor Andersen had a Christmas tree in the living room. He stared at it. ‘Well, I must say,’ he thought. ‘Yes indeed, I must say.’ Then he turned and ambled round the living room, while he listened to the Christmas carols on TV. ‘Yes, I must say,’ he repeated.

Scenes From Village Life by Amos Oz (from Hebrew; trans. Nicholas de Lange) (Chatto & Windus)
The stranger was not quite a stranger. Something in his appearance repelled and yet fascinated Arieh Zelnik from first glance, if it really was the first glance: he felt he remembed that face, the arms that came down nearly to the knees, but vaguely, as though from a lifetime ago.

Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga (from Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) (Harvill Secker)
Chrysostome Liege signed a contract to serve in King Leopold’s Force Publique at the beginning of 1903 and reached his posting in the Congo in August of the same year, having travelled by packet-boat from Antwerp to Matadi, by train as far as Leopoldville, and then, finally, on a small steamship, the Princesse Clementine, to the garrison of Yangambi.

The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg (from Swedish; trans. Sarah Death) (Faber)
There are, at a reasonable estimate, some 320,000 Jews living in the city of Lodz today. This number cannot all be evacuated simultaneously. A thorough study undertaken by the relevant authorities has shown it would be impossible for them all to be concentrated in a single, closed ghetto. In due course, the Jewish question will be solved as follows:

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (from Italian; trans. Richard Dixon) (Harvill Secker)
A passerby on that grey morning in March 1897, crossing, at his own risk and peril, place Maubert or the Maub, as it was known in criminal circles (formerly a centre of university life in the Middle Ages when students flocked there from the Faculty of Arts in Vicus Stramineus or rue du Fouarre, and later a place of execution for apostles of free thought such as Etienne Dolet), [etc etc]


3 thoughts on “Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012 Longlist

  1. Came here via Winstondad. It's a great blog you have here.

  2. I'm reading from the mouth of a whale at the moment & will want to read more by this writer, also Professor Anderson's night appeals to me.

  3. Violet says:

    I would love to read the entire list, but my local library is not big on translated fiction. I may read The Prague Cemetery and New Finnish Grammar, if I can get hold of them in time. The only one on the list I have read is IQ84.

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