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Monday, 3 March 2014

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014 - my small predictions

This year I’ve out my hand up to “shadow” the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize judges and independently assess the independents. Unlike a couple of the “shadow panel” I am extremely unlikely to get through fifteen novels in four or five weeks, given a few will possibly take that long to land on the Australian shores. I will give my local library a chance, however based on previous years I’m not holding out much hope.

A couple of other shadow judges have jumped the gun and have put together their books they feel should be on the IFFP Long List so I thought I’d do the same. My reading being a little less frenetic than theirs so I only have a few I would like to highlight:

A moving love story told in two voices by nameless characters. With alternating chapters in different font the character’s musings on art, publishing, suicide, loneliness, depression, drug abuse, family relationships and ultimately love are a reflection on living in post-independence Croatia.

My Struggle: Book 2 (A Man In Love) by Karl Over Knausguaard (translated by Don Bartlett)

Following on from Karl Ove’s struggles with his father’s death from alcoholism, we follow him to Stockholm where he falls insanely in love with Linda. His struggles with love, family duties, writing, friendship and more in his latest raw unsettling and honest instalment (number 2 of 6).

Set in a psychiatric ward this is a novel written in broken thoughts, fragments of sentences, visions and musings. But one that shows such complexity and a vivid understanding of narrative style that you cannot help but be dragged along with the author’s torment.

A sparse and deeply emotional tale of loneliness, emptiness and love. A very moving and tragic tale told in opposites when Tsukiko comes across her former high school teacher (or Sensei). Shortlisted for the Man Asian Prize which shows you can write an empty novel. Also known as “Strange Weather in Tokyo”.

The Infatuations by Javier Mara (translated by Margaret Jull Costa)

Spruiked far and wide to make the list, it is awaiting my return from Alice Springs before I tackle it, however given the reviews I have seen it looks certain to make the list.

Given the list will comprise of novels that have been entered by their publishers I could be way off the mark with my thoughts, but I will return as soon as the list is announced and will make my way through as many as possible. Keep your eyes on my blog here for updates on one of my favourite (if not THE favourite) prizes of the year, the quality each year never ceases to amaze me.


Bellezza said...

I, too, find it unlikely to be able to read 15 books in 5 weeks. Still, I love to at least observe from the edges, participating however I can.

Last year I only read one book, from the short list, and it makes me laugh because that was the book that won. What an irony. :)

I have read The Briefcase from your list of predictions, but that is all.

Tony Malone said...

It'll be interesting to see if any of these make it on Saturday. Really not sure how 'All Dogs are Blue' will go - I thought it was OK, but I have the feeling that some people really loved it...