In a few hours time the judges for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize will announce their winner for 2015. As followers of this blog would know a group of us get together each year and form the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Shadow Jury, and to date our preferences have not been matched by the official judges. Could it be that we are voting for the best work without prejudice? That would accuse the formal jury of having bias and I wouldn’t want to do that!!!
Given the official winner is soon to be announced, the Shadow Jury again wants to jump the gun and announce our winner beforehand, in the true spirit of open, honest and transparent behaviour. No bias here!!!
This year the Shadow Jury was made up of a record number of judges from all over the planet, eleven in total and the debates on the merits of each work were lively and enlightening. You can search for our various reviews using your favourite search engine or look for #IFFP tweets and you’ll pick up a plethora of reviews of the sixteen works we had on our longlist. We went one better than the official fifteen works, calling in “Zone” by Mathias Enard, as we knew it was both eligible and entered for the award.
After a week of email discussions, two rounds of voting the Shadow Jury is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Award...... “The End of Days” by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky.
This is a tale of re-imagined life, where death can come visiting at any time, but what if it doesn’t? Set in pre-World War Two Vienna, through the War, into Stalin’s Moscow and onto a recent Berlin, this work also addresses Germany through extremely turbulent times.
Addressing a raft of human issues, from refugees, to underground meetings, from prostitution, to loving relationships, from birth to death:
A day on which a life comes to an end if still far from being the end of days.
The Shadow Jury would also like to put forward a special mention for “Zone” by Mathias Enard, translated by Charlotte Mandell, a work published in the USA in 2010 but only released in Great Britain in 2014. A complex, all encompassing story of a train ride and European history told in a single sentence over 521 pages (if you have read this work you know there is a break in the sentence but you need to read it to understand why).
I have a sneaking suspicion that the Shadow Jury and the Official Jury will agree this year!!! We will know if a few hours time. Overall another successful Shadow Jury for 2015, another plethora of books I didn’t know were out there and another journey though foreign lands, via the eyes of a wide range of writers. Bring on 2016!!!