IFFP 2015: the shadowing begins

shadow iffp

It’s time for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and once again I will be joining the shadow jury in reading the longlist and selecting our own ‘winner’. But that’s getting ahead of myself; for now, here;s the longlist:

Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, By Night the Mountain Burns (Spanish: trans. Jethro Soutar), And Other Stories

Tomas Bannerhed, The Ravens (Swedish: trans. Sarah Death), Clerkenwell Press

Jenny Erpenbeck, The End of Days (German: trans. Susan Bernofsky), Portobello Books

Marcello Fois, Bloodlines (Italian: trans. Silvester Mazzarella), MacLehose Press

Tomás González, In the Beginning Was the Sea (Spanish: trans. Frank Wynne), Pushkin Press

Hamid Ismailov, The Dead Lake (Russian: trans. Andrew Bromfield), Peirene Press

Daniel Kehlmann, F (German: trans. Carol Brown Janeway), Quercus

Karl Ove Knausgaard, Boyhood Island (Norwegian: trans. Don Bartlett), Harvill Secker

J.M. Lee, The Investigation (Korean: trans. Chi-Young Kim), Mantle

Erwin Mortier, While the Gods Were Sleeping (Dutch: trans. Paul Vincent), Pushkin Press

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Japanese: trans. Philip Gabriel), Harvill Secker

Judith Schalansky, The Giraffe’s Neck (German: trans. Shaun Whiteside), Bloomsbury

Stefanie de Velasco, Tiger Milk (German: trans. Tim Mohr), Head of Zeus

Timur Vermes, Look Who’s Back (German: trans. Jamie Bulloch), MacLehose Press

Can Xue, The Last Lover (Chinese: trans. Annelise Finegan), Yale University Press

I’ve read five of those already, and reviewed four. The official shortlist will be announced on 9 April, and we’ll reveal our shadow shortlist just before then. I am aiming to have read everything by then, and will try to review as much of the shortlist as I can.  I’ll be using this post as an index, so you can click on the links above to see what I thought of each book.

General impressions of the longlist? I must admit, I would like to have seen Mathias Enard’s Zone and Elvira Dones’ Sworn Virgin make the cut. But there are writers on here whom I’ve been meaning to read, like Erpenbeck and Xue; it’ll be interesting to try Knausgaard and Murakami once again; and there are certainly some very intriguing books on that list. (As an aside, I also have to say that this list shows how vital small publishers are to fiction in translation.)

Finally, let me introduce you to the other bloggers in this year’s shadow jury:

Stu of Winstonsdad

Tony of Tony’s Reading List

Bellezza of Dolce Bellezza

Tony of Messengers Booker (and more)

Joe of Roughghosts

Chelsea of The Globally Curious

Clare of A Little Blog of Books

Emma of Words and Peace

Grant of 1streading

Julianne of Never Stop Reading

I hope you’ll join us in exploring and celebrating fiction from around the world in the coming months.


  1. Golly! That’s a lot of reading you’ve set yourself!

    • Hi Realthog. It is a lot, but it could be worse – there are five or six very long (500+ pages) books that could have made the cut, but haven’t. Most of these are relatively short, so I think it’s just about doable for me.

  2. Looking forward to the journey with you and everyone else. The only title I would like to have seen is Per Petterson’s I Refuse which for my money is even better than Out Stealing Horses. Would have preferred to see Don Bartlett get the nod for that translation over Knausgaard, but I haven’t read the latter yet. Thrilled to see And Other Stories make the cut, happy to see any of their titles get deserved attention… just opens more doors for great translated and international fiction (because they feature both).

    • Hi Joe, great to have you on board with the shadow jury. I’ve not read Per Petterson yet, though he’s on my list of writers to try. Knausgaard I expect will a fixture of the IFFP for all of My Struggle

    • Continuing the comment as I pressed Send accidentally: it is wonderful to see AOS on the list; I had no idea this was their first nod, and it’s not before time. Now here’s hoping the likes of Europa and Istros make it some day…

  3. Cold light of day the fact most of them are quite short books I’ve eight books to read two to flick through f I read earlier this month and by night mountain burns I read last year and never got too

  4. While there are some surprising omissions, it also pleasing to discover new books which had perhaps slipped under the radar (or, at least, my radar). Like you, I’ve read 5 and hope to read the rest, aided by the absence of any really long books!

  5. I’ve read the Murakami and Vermes. Really looking forward to reading the rest especially The Investigation, Bloodlines and The End of Days. I chose to shadow the Prize to discover something new and original and I think the longlist has definitely provided that! 🙂

  6. The only one that holds no appeal for me is Knausgaard. Maybe its because I’m feeling sated with so many articles about him that I’m unfairly prejudiced.

    • Having read the first two volumes of My Struggle, I’m feeling ambivalent about reading the third. I try to focus on the books, but you’re right that the constant stream of articles doesn’t help – particularly with one volume a year, it’s pretty much the same thing over and over again, unceasingly.

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