The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize long-list spans a planet of stories

 

The 'Independent' Foreign Fiction Prize remains not just Britain's premier honour for modern writing in translation: with its £10,000 pot equally – and uniquely - divided between author and translator. It has, over the dozen years since its re-foundation with generous support from Arts Council England and Champagne Taittinger, become the contest of first resort for many readers here and abroad who wish to take the temperature of global fiction.

This sounds paradoxical at first. One of the aims of the award has been to encourage translation-averse UK publishers to broaden their horizons, and welcome more books over our tightly-patrolled linguistic borders. Yet the relative scarcity of translations into the "Anglosphere", however frustrating, lends extra weight to those that do make the crossing. For a novelist, prominence in an English-language edition can unlock translations into other languages. It may throw a bridge between diverse audiences and markets. This prize offers to British readers a superb tasting menu of fictional flavours, and a feast of the translator's art. It also helps to sharpen appetites, and set agendas, across the world.

Always a rainbow of voices, places and styles, the long-list for the prize this year paints with a more colourful palette than ever. The authors include a lyricist for Björk (Sjón, with his uproarious and visionary confession of a sorceror-scientist in 17th-century Iceland), a one-time propaganda writer for the Chinese army (Yan Lianke, whose shocking but tender countryside tragedy lifts the lid on China's blood-farming scandal), a Brussels-based EU linguist (Diego Marani, whose stranded soldier in wartime Trieste inspires an ingenious, tantalising fable about language, identity and community), and a Holocaust survivor who spent his childhood hiding from the Nazis - Aharon Appelfeld, whose own early ordeals underpin his poignant story of a lost, scared boy and the scandalous woman who shelters him.

The titles chosen take in wide-canvas bestsellers by the international superstars of fiction: Haruki Murakami spins his cult-busting Tokyo fantasia through a hallucinatory alternative world; Umberto Eco plumbs the depths of fin-de-siècle anti-Semitism via an exuberant melodrama of facts and fakes. Briefer books selected include Judith Hermann's achingly gorgeous linked stories of grief and memory in Berlin and Italy; Amos Oz's braid of Israeli lives into a beguiling tapestry of friendship, solitude and suspicion; and Matthias Politycki's cunning and gripping novella, which gives a smug academic the shock of his life.

Languages represented range from Korean (Kyung-sook Shin, whose tale of an aged parent lost in the frenzy of Seoul captures all the disorientation of modernity) and Norwegian (Dag Solstad, sending another fretful don into a darkly comic crisis of belief on Christmas Eve) to Hungarian (Peter Nadas, who unfolds his nation's tormented modern history across a vast panorama of curious characters and unsettling incidents). Further forays into the past take readers into Heart of Darkness-era Congo, with Bernardo Atxaga's mordant satire aimed at vain European colonisers; to fashionable Paris in the 1980s and 1990s, as Aids – both as condition and idea – scythes through a quartet of intellectual friends in Tristan Garcia's corrosive tale of love in fluid times; and to the wartime Lodz ghetto in Poland, in Steve Sem-Sandberg's suspenseful moral epic of collaboration, resistance and the search for hope in hell.

This year's prize chefs had as strenuous a spell as ever in the adjudicators' kitchen. Joining me on the judging panel are Hephzibah Anderson, writer and critic, Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Professor Jon Cook, director of creative and performing arts at the University of East Anglia, and Xiaolu Guo, writer and film-maker shortlisted for this prize for her novel Village of Stone. Our agreeably heated discussions reduced a 100-strong entry to 15 titles. As well as the sheer breadth on show in terms of language, geography and genre, this long-list covers the waterfront of UK publishing vessels - from the literary imprints of conglomerates to a strong showing for the smaller independents. We recommend them all: the bulky and the slender; the tragic and the satiric; the epic and the domestic; the stories from here and now, and those from far away and long ago. Somehow, we will have to render this mouth-watering banquet down into a final choice of six dishes. The shortlist will be announced at the London Book Fair on Monday 16 April.

All the long-listed books are available with a discount from the 'Independent' bookshop, 08430 600 030

A wide world of fiction: the long-list

Aharon Appelfeld Blooms of Darkness (translated by Jeffrey M Green from the Hebrew; Alma Books)

Bernardo Atxaga Seven Houses in France (Margaret Jull Costa; Spanish; Harvill Secker)

Umberto Eco The Prague Cemetery (Richard Dixon; Italian; Harvill Secker)

Tristan Garcia Hate: a romance (Marion Duvert & Lorin Stein; French; Faber & Faber)

Judith Hermann Alice (Margot Bettauer Dembo; German; The Clerkenwell Press)

Diego Marani New Finnish Grammar (Judith Landry; Italian; Dedalus)

Haruki Murakami 1Q84, Books 1 and 2 (Jay Rubin; Japanese; Harvill Secker)

Peter Nadas Parallel Stories (Imre Goldstein; Hungarian; Jonathan Cape)

Amos Oz Scenes from Village Life (Nicholas de Lange; Hebrew; Chatto & Windus)

Matthias Politycki Next World Novella (Anthea Bell; German; Peirene Press)

Steve Sem-Sandberg The Emperor of Lies (Sarah Death; Swedish; Faber & Faber)

Kyung-sook Shin Please Look After Mother (Chi-Young Kim; Korean; Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Sjón From the Mouth of the Whale (Victoria Cribb; Icelandic; Telegram Books)

Dag Solstad Professor Andersen's Night (Agnes Scott Langeland; Norwegian; Harvill Secker)

Yan Lianke Dream of Ding Village (Cindy Carter; Chinese; Constable & Robinson)

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit