The winner of the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012 was announced on the 14th May 2012 at a special Champagne Taittinger reception held at the Royal Institute of British Architects in central London. The £10,000 prize, which is shared equally by the winning author and the translator of their novel, was awarded to Aharon Appelfed, for Blooms of Darkness, and Jeffrey M Green who translated the novel from the Hebrew into English.
The novel is loosely based on Appelfeld's own experiences of the Holocaust as a boy, where he escaped from a prison camp. Blooms of Darkness is told from the perspective of 11-year-old Hugo who is taken in by Mariana, a prostitute, to keep him safe as the Second World War rages around them in the ghetto and Jewish people are forcefully sent to concentration camps.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize honours an outstanding work of fiction written by a living author, which has been translated into English from any language and published in the UK in the previous twelve months. The prize is unique in that it acknowledges the writer and translator equally. Champagne Taittinger, the Champagne of the independently minded drinker, was again the preferred Champagne sponsor of the prize - a partnership between Arts Council England and the Independent newspaper.
Author Aharon Appelfeld and translator Jeffrey M Green will share the £10,000 prize equally and receive a magnum of Champagne Taittinger Brut Réserve apiece as part of their prize.
The winner was selected by a panel of judges comprising Hephzibah Anderson, freelance critic, feature writer and broadcaster; Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival; Jon Cook, Professor of Literature and Director of the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts at the University of East Anglia; Chair of Arts Council England, East; Novelist, short story writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo and Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor of The Independent
Hephzibah Anderson, judge of the 2012 Prize comments: "Jeffrey M Green's incantatory translation from the Hebrew does ample justice to a novel that meditates on the imagination, memory and language itself. As the relationship between Hugo and Mariana evolves, this deceptively simple narrative does something extraordinary, carrying the reader to a liminal territory in which deep sensuality exists alongside unfathomable brutality".
Said Lynn Murray, Marketing Director for Hatch Mansfield the sole UK agents for Champagne Taittinger, "This is the 11th consecutive year that Champagne Taittinger has supported the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and we are delighted to continue this long association."