25 January 08 | Chad W. Post

In today’s Independent, Boyd Tonkin has the complete longlist for the 2007 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Before getting to the list itself, Tonkin makes a case for the publication of literature in translation:

The annual list of the bestselling paperbacks in Britain made, as ever, a more enlightening read than many of the books on it. Take away those titles sold at a large discount and number 12 in the top hundred for 2007 was Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, with sales of 320,343 copies (after its triumph in hardback, of course). [. . .] True, Suite Française is a very special novel, with an uncommonly moving story behind as well as within its pages. Yet disheartened publishers, booksellers and translators should ponder those figures the next time some corporate blockhead argues that Britain counts as a uniquely hostile landscape for fiction from beyond the English-speaking world. In any language, that is nonsense.

All the same, an absence of knowledge, of courage and of will does conspire to delay, or sometimes prevent, the arrival on these shores of countless great books from outside the Anglosphere. This long-term market failure to deliver the world’s best fiction in good time (or at all) to our shelves is what justifies the expenditure of comparatively tiny amounts of public money to speed the passage of such books. Without its help, the British literary scene might really start to look like what many overseas authors and critics that I meet already assume it is: the global village idiot, loud-mouthed and lame-brained, foisting its clod-hopping middlebrow fare (very successfully, it must be said) on the rest of the planet while remaining stone deaf to whatever other tongues might have to say to us.

Since 2000, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has enjoyed the stalwart support of Arts Council England in order to play a part in resisting this global-village idiocy.

(He does touch on the current controversy about the ACE funding cuts for Arcadia and Co., but I won’t go into that now.)

This list of 17 titles (selected from the 100 translations submitted) will be trimmed to 6 next month, with the £10,000 prize (divided between author and translator) to be awarded in May. (BTW, last year’s winner was The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa, published in the UK by Arcadia and forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in the U.S.)

Enough of that—here’s the list:

  • Alaa Al-Aswany, The Yacoubian Building (translated by Humphrey Davies from the Arabic, and published by Fourth Estate)
  • Bi Feiyu, The Moon Opera (Howard Goldblatt; Chinese; Telegram)
  • Lars Saabye Christensen, The Model (Don Bartlett; Norwegian; Arcadia)
  • Jenny Erpenbeck, The Book of Words (Susan Bernofsky; German; Portobello)
  • Pawel Huelle, Castorp (Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Polish; Serpent’s Tail)
  • Ismail Kadare, Agamemnon’s Daughter (David Bellos; French; Canongate)
  • Sayed Kashua, Let It Be Morning (Miriam Shlesinger; Hebrew; Atlantic)
  • Daniel Kehlmann, Measuring the World (Carol Brown Janeway; German; Quercus)
  • Erwin Mortier, Shutterspeed (Ina Rilke; Dutch; Harvill Secker)
  • Marlene van Niekerk, The Way of the Women (Michiel Heyns; Afrikaans; Little, Brown)
  • Bengt Ohlsson, Gregorius (Silvester Mazzarella; Swedish; Portobello)
  • Alan Pauls, The Past (Nick Caistor; Spanish; Harvill Secker)
  • Peter Pistanek, Rivers of Babylon (Peter Petro; Slovak; Garnett Press)
  • Laura Restrepo, Delirium (Natasha Wimmer; Spanish; Harvill Secker)
  • Yasmina Traboulsi, Bahia Blues (Polly McLean; French; Arcadia)
  • Paul Verhaeghen, Omega Minor (the author; Dutch; Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano (Jonathan Dunne; Spanish; Harvill Secker)

Overall, a very impressive list, and it’s interesting that a number of these books—The Way of the Women and The Past to name two—have yet to find U.S. publishers . . .


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >