International relations – it might be worth remembering just now – can mean a lot more than suspicion, sabre-rattling or slaughter.
International relations – it might be worth remembering just now – can mean a lot more than suspicion, sabre-rattling or slaughter. And successful translation could serve as a model of cross-cultural exchange – rooted in shared respect, aiming to delight both sides, and leaving a residue of mutual satisfaction. Put like that, the whole process sounds strangely erotic. In which case, my purely literary message would have to be: make love, not war, across the borders of language.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize will be given again in early April. Taken last year by Anthea Bell's superb version of W G Sebald's Austerlitz, the award – Britain's major honour for foreign literature – will consist of £10,000 split between author and translator. It is generously supported by the Arts Council of England and Champagne Taittinger.
The shortlist of six books will be announced in March. But the judges (Ahdaf Soueif, Jack Mapanje, Amanda Hopkinson, Professor Susan Bassnett and your columnist) see no reason not to follow the lead of the Man Booker and release details of the long list that will guide us. So here it is, alphabetically: 16 novels that prove British publishers can make up in the quality of fiction they translate for its glaring absence of quantity. The roster includes, by the way, laureates of other prizes stretching all the way from the Nobel itself (José Saramago) to the Gold Dagger for crime fiction (J C Somoza). Our star-studded shortlist follows in a month.
Frédéric Beigbeder, £9.99 (French: translated by Adriana Hunter; Faber)
Umberto Eco, Baudolino (Italian: tr. William Weaver; Secker & Warburg)
Per Olov Enquist, The Visit of the Royal Physician (Swedish: tr. Tiina Nunnally; Harvill)
Jens Christian Grøndahl, Lucca (Danish: tr. Anne Born; Canongate)
Norbert Gstrein, The English Years (German: tr. Anthea Bell; Harvill)
Milton Hatoum, The Brothers (Portuguese: tr. John Gledson; Bloomsbury)
Michel Houellebecq, Platform (French: tr. Frank Wynne; Heinemann)
Peter Stephan Jungk, The Snowflake Constant (German: tr. Michael Hofmann; Faber)
Milan Kundera, Ignorance (French: tr. Linda Asher, Faber)
Amin Maalouf, Balthasar's Odyssey (French: tr. Barbara Bray; Harvill)
Patricia Melo, Inferno (Portuguese: tr. Clifford E Landers; Bloomsbury)
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, The Nautical Chart (Spanish: tr. Margaret Sayers Peden; Picador)
Atiq Rahimi, Earth and Ashes (Dari/Afghanistan: tr. Erdag Goknar; Chatto)
José Saramago, The Cave (Portuguese: tr. Margaret Jull Costa; Harvill)
José Carlos Somoza, The Athenian Murders (Spanish: tr. Sonia Soto; Abacus)
Mario Vargas Llosa, The Feast of the Goat (Spanish: tr. Edith Grossman; Faber)Reuse content