The £10,000 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is awarded annually to the best work of contemporary fiction in translation.
The 2014 Prize celebrates an exceptional work of fiction by a living author which has been translated into English from any other language and published in the United Kingdom in 2013. Uniquely, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize acknowledges both the writer and the translator equally – each receives £5,000 – recognising the importance of the translator in their ability to bridge the gap between languages and cultures.
The Prize is funded by Arts Council England, supported by The Independent and Champagne Taittinger, and managed by Booktrust.
In 2014 Japanese women writers make the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist for the first time in its 24 -year history. The two women, Hiromi Kawakami and the ‘Japanese Angela Carter’ Yoko Ogawa, vie with exiled Iraqi novelist Hassan Blasim, bestselling Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard, French author Hubert Mingarelli and German writer Birgit Vanderbeke.
Half of the shortlist is female, which is encouraging given the prevalence of translated fiction from male writers. Birgit Vanderbeke joins the two Japanese women with her debut novel The Mussel Feast; this modern German classic first appeared in 1990 but is now published in English for the first time.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has a reputation for presenting astonishingly diverse themes and genres. This year’s shortlist is no exception. It varies from the surreal and supernatural (in the writing of the Japanese authors) to the everyday in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s candid portrayal of contemporary masculinity.
The Prize aims to showcase the world’s top writing translated from any language and many of the shortlisted books have already made waves in the authors’ home countries
The full shortlist of 6 titles is below:
- The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim and translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright (Comma Press)
- A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard and translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Harvill Secker)
- A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli and translated from the French by Sam Taylor (Portobello Books)
- The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke and translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch (Peirene Press)
- Revenge by Yoko Ogawa and translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)
- Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami and translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Portobello Books)
The judges for this year’s Prize are:
- Alev Adil, Artist in Residence, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader for MA Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich
- British writer, broadcaster and former stand-up comedian Natalie Haynes
- Nadifa Mohamed, award-winning author
- Boyd Tonkin, Senior Writer and Columnist, The Independent
- Literary translator Shaun Whiteside
Stay up-to-date with the Prize at www.booktrust.org.uk/iffp
Twitter: @Booktrust and #IFFP.