Reading all over the world: The long-list for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize spans the globe

The numbers fell; but not the scope or the quality. A preference for safe bets and low horizons in recession-era publishing did serve to thin the field of translated fiction published in the UK during 2009. Entries for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shrank by more than a quarter. That only means, take note, that the total of titles considered by the judges (Tibor Fischer, Kate Griffin, Daniel Hahn, Kirsty Lang and myself) merely returned to its level a few years ago.

And, as a properly global shop-window for the range and depth of fiction in translation available in Britain, the long-list of 15 books that we have selected strikes this judge - at least - as a mixture as robust, alluring and diverse as ever. From Berlin (Julia Franck) and Calcutta (Sankar) to Buenos Aires (Claudia Piñeiro) and Baghdad (Hassan Blasim), and from a Russian historical mystery (Boris Akunin) and a Congolese low-life comedy (Alain Mabanckou) to a French wartime blockbuster (Jonathan Littell) and an Italian trio of coming-of-age novellas (Pietro Grossi), our choice accesses all areas of world fiction in form as well as theme and place.

It contains international literary stars as well as dynamic newcomers, with a third of the books translated from non-European languages. For the first time, three Arabic-language authors (Bahaa Taher from Egypt, Hassan Blasim from Iraq and Elias Khoury from Lebanon) feature on the list, as well as Syrian-born Rafik Schami, who writes in German.

His translator, the recently OBEd Anthea Bell, pops up again with her version of Julia Franck; the other double nominee is Humphrey Davies, with two Arabic titles to his credit. As for the imprints that host this banquet of overseas treats, that nine books out of a 15-strong gathering should come from independent houses (from middleweight Atlantic to tiny Comma Press) tells a story in itself about where to find vision and audacity in UK publishing today.

Once again, the prize owes a huge debt to the support of Arts Council England and Champagne Taittinger. The judges will meet again in mid-April to scrap over the cull that will have to shrink this formidable field into a shortlist of six. I warmly recommend all the books on a list that offers something for everyone and something from (just about) everywhere. It will surprise, delight and sometimes even shock.

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize long-list

Boris Akunin The Coronation (translated by Andrew Bromfield from the Russian) Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Ketil Bjørnstad To Music (Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik; Norwegian) Maia Press

Hassan Blasim The Madman of Freedom Square (Jonathan Wright; Arabic) Comma Press

Philippe Claudel Brodeck's Report (John Cullen; French) MacLehose Press

Julia Franck The Blind Side of the Heart (Anthea Bell; German) Harvill Secker

Pietro Grossi Fists (Howard Curtis; Italian) Pushkin Press

Elias Khoury Yalo (Humphrey Davies; Arabic) MacLehose Press

Jonathan Littell The Kindly Ones (Charlotte Mandell; French) Chatto & Windus

Alain Mabanckou Broken Glass (Helen Stevenson; French) Serpent's Tail

Javier Marías Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell (Margaret Jull Costa; Spanish) Chatto & Windus

Yoko Ogawa The Housekeeper and the Professor (Stephen Snyder; Japanese) Harvill Secker

Claudia Piñeiro Thursday Night Widows (Miranda France; Spanish) Bitter Lemon Press

Sankar Chowringhee (Arunava Sinha; Bengali) Atlantic

Rafik Schami The Dark Side of Love (Anthea Bell; German) Arabia Books

Bahaa Taher Sunset Oasis (Humphrey Davies; Arabic) Sceptre

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?