Thoughts: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

5

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

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5 thoughts on “Thoughts: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

  1. Tony says:

    Ever diplomatic Mark – I wish they had just told us at the start of it all that this year's theme was books set during atrocious regimes (it would have saved us a lot of deliberation…). Oh well, here's to a brighter longlist in 2013 – and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the festivities on our behalf 🙂

  2. I'd have still voted for From the mouth as it was also set in a atrocious regime, in which the hero? was being punished.PS, glad it was a great evening & thanks for representing the shadow jury.

  3. Just dropping by to say I've really loved reading the posts from the shadow jury and added Traveller of the Century and From The Mouth of the Whale to my summer reading list as a result of the team's reviews. Well done to everyone for managing to cover the full list and stay positive despite the despots, arm-breakingly big books, death and despair. 🙂

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks Alex, and definitely look up From The Mouth Of The Whale! Incidentally, he's just got a new one out too: The Whispering Muse. Looks equally brilliant and bizarre!

  5. stujallen says:

    was lovely to meet and was great evening even with a shock winner ,all the best stu

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