East European books vie for £10,000 prize

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The Independent Culture

Interest in east European literature seems to have surged according to the shortlist for Britain's most lucrative fiction prize for foreign literature translated to English.

Four of the six books nominated for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2006 are written by east European authors. Imre Kertz, a Hungarian who won the Nobel Prize for Literature four years ago, wrote Fatelessness, about a 14-year-old boy in Auschwitz, in 1975 but it was translated into English only in the past year. Also on the shortlist is Mercedes-Benz, an account by a Pole, Pawel Huelle, of a family's history and its obsession with the German marque which gives the book its title.

The Ministry of Pain, by the Croat author Dubravka Ugresic, looks at the collapse of Yugoslavia through a group of students. Another Hungarian, Magda Szab, who is 89, is shortlisted for The Door, a tale of an efficient but secretive housekeeper. The other two books on the shortlist are This Blinding Absence of Light, about a prisoner kept 20 years in an unlit jail, by the Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun, and Out Stealing Horses, a story of childhood memory by Per Petterson, a Norwegian.

The £10,000 prize will be shared between the author and translator. The winner will be announced on 2 May.

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