Shortlist announced for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012
Posted by Amélie, on 16 April 2012. Comments: 0
The shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced on Thursday, April 12 and leaves us with an ecletic selection of six titles from places as varied as China, Iceland and Israel. Interesting to see that the two longlisted Italian titles both remain in the competition!
The winner will be announced on Monday, May 14, leaving you another month to make up your own mind about the selection! You can find the books in translation as well as some of in their original language on our website.
Read more about the judges' choices over at The Independent.
Alice by Judith Hermann
translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo
Alice is the central figure in these five inter-connected narratives, which tell of her life at times of loss. Suddenly it is no longer possible to say what the person looked like, how he spoke, cursed, smiled, how he lived his life. Objects are left behind, books, letters, pictures and every now and again you think you can see them in a crowd.
Judith Hermann tells of days of transition, of waiting, of holding on and letting go and of how clear and dazzling such days can sometimes be. "Alice" is a book of extraordinary power and great literary beauty from one of Europe's finest writers.
Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld
translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
The ghetto in which the Jews have been confined is being liquidated by the Nazis, and eleven-year-old Hugo is brought by his mother to the local brothel, where one of the prostitutes has agreed to hide him. Mariana is a bitterly unhappy woman who hates what she has done to her life, and night after night Hugo sits in her closet and listens uncomprehendingly as she rages at the Nazi soldiers who come and go. When she's not mired in self-loathing, Mariana is fiercely protective of the bewildered, painfully polite young boy. And Hugo becomes protective of Mariana, too, trying to make her laugh when she is depressed, soothing her physical and mental agony with cold compresses. As the memories of his family and friends grow dim, Hugo falls in love with Mariana. And as her life spirals downwards, Mariana reaches out for consolation to the adoring boy who is on the cusp of manhood.
From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón
translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
The year is 1635. Iceland is a world darkened by superstition, poverty and cruelty. Men of science marvel over a unicorn s horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret and both books and men are burnt. Jónas Pálmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jónas recalls his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjáfjöll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children. From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age.
New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani
translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
One night at Trieste in September 1943 a seriously wounded soldier is found on the quay. The doctor, of a newly arrived German hospital ship, Pietri Friari gives the unconscious soldier medical assistance. His new patient has no documents or anything that can identifying him. When he regains consciousness he has lost his memory and cannot even remember what language he speaks. From a few things found on the man the doctor, who is originally from Finland, believes him to be a sailor and a fellow countryman, who somehow or other has ended up in Trieste. The doctor dedicates himself to teaching the man Finnish, beginning the reconstruction of the identity of Sampo Karjalainen, leading the missing man to return to Finland in search of his identity and his past.
The Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke
translated from the Chinese by Cindy Carter
Here, China's most controversial novelist takes as his subject the contemporary AIDS blood-contamination scandal in Henan province, where villagers were coerced into selling vast quantities of blood and then infected with the AIDS virus as they were injected with plasma to prevent anaemia. Whole villages were wiped out in this way, with no responsibility taken or reparation made. The Dream of Ding Village focuses on one village, and the story of one family, torn apart when one son rises to the top of the Party pile as he exploits the situation, while another is infected and dies. Narrated by a dead boy and written in finely crafted, affecting prose, the novel presents a powerful absurdist allegory of the moral vacuum at the heart of Communist-capitalist China as it traces the life and death of an entire community.
The Prague Cemetary by Umberto Eco
translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon
Nineteenth-century Europe, from Turin to Prague to Paris, abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian priests are strangled with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate black masses by night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat.
But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay just one man? What if that evil genius created the most infamous document of all?
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