Tuesday, 8 April 2014

IFFP 2014 - Two Shortlists

Well, the judges began about a month back by announcing fifteen candidates for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the field has now been cut to just six.  While nine books will retreat, licking their wounds, the remaining half-dozen will live to fight another day, all hoping to be crowned top dog in May :) 

Just who are those top six?  Well, it's actually a top ten - you see, the Shadow Panel, as always, sees things a little differently ;)

This year, there are only two books overlapping (The Mussel Feast and A Man in Love), and while there's nothing on the official list which offends me (unlike the previous two years), I'd still have to say that the Shadow list is far stronger.  Lovers of beautiful prose will be dismayed at the exclusion of The Sorrow of Angels, The Infatuations and Brief Loves that Live Forever from the official list, and several people had The Corpse Washer down as a dark horse for the entire thing.  Still, Stu, David, Jacqui, Bellezza, Tony and myself all have the chance to give them their moment in the sun, as they're still in with a shout of the Shadow Prize :)

As for the real thing, a few points to note.  Firstly,three of the shortlisted works are by women, and while I can't help but feel that this is a deliberate choice, given the discussions about the lack of submissions by female writers in recent years, they're all great books and worthy of the attention.

Secondly, two of them are short-story collections, and that's a big surprise (I know a certain blogger who will be very happy to hear of their inclusion!).  Short stories don't always fare well in these competitions, so well done to both Ogawa and Blasim.

Finally, I'm very happy for two of my favourite small presses, Comma Press and Peirene Press, for managing to get a book onto the shortlist.  Peirene have had four successive longlistings, but this is their first shortlisting - well done!  Oh, and can I just say I told you so... ;)

That's all for the shortlists then - now we look ahead to the unveiling of this year's grand champion, the Yokozuna of the translated fiction world.  The official prize will be announced on the 22nd of May, and I'm sure the slightly more prestigious Shadow Prize will be awarded a day or two before.  Stick around, though - there's a lot more to read and discuss before all that happens :)