May 15, 2012 by markstani
Aharon Appelfeld’s Blooms of Darkness was named winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize at a champagne bash in London on Monday night. Myself and Stu were there to represent the ‘Shadow’ Jury. We can report that the champagne and the company were both excellent. The Telegram crew, including translator Victoria Cribb, expressed delight at being awarded the impossibly prestigious ‘Shadow’ Prize for Sjon’s From The Mouth Of The Whale.
I can’t pretend I wasn’t surprised when the official winner was announced. ‘Blooms Of Darkness’ (translated, we mustn’t forget, by Jeffrey Green) didn’t make our ‘Shadow’ shortlist. I think I speak for most of the ‘Shadow’ jury when I say we didn’t have any particular issue with it: we just found it a little unremarkable. It was, however, undeniably moving to hear Appelfeld’s speech upon his acceptance of the award. And if you choose to see this Prize as a reward for his vast canon of Holocaust-related work in his homeland – a sort of Lifetime Achievement Award – then you can’t really argue too much.
Overall, this year’s Prize was tough and challenging, but ultimately worthwhile. After a strong year for Hebrew and northern European fiction in particular, it would be great to see the Prize swing more towards Asia and the Arab world in 2013. But the judges, remember, can only work with what’s entered.
Last but not least, I must mention the people behind the Prize, Booktrust, and in particular Nikesh, who ran with the whole ‘Shadow’ concept, helped us out with a few review copies, and without whom, most importantly, there would have been no free champagne.
Links to all 67 of the ‘Shadow’ Jury’s longlist posts can be found here