IFFP Reviews 3 & 4 – Round-Up

In my last post, we looked at two of this year’s IFFP contenders, and it’s time to move on and look at another pair of hopefuls today.  Off we go to Poland and Spain – with a bonus trip to Ireland thrown in for good measure.  Once again, please click on the links for my full reviews 🙂

Cold Sea Stories by Paweł Huelle (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones – from Comma Press)
What’s it all about?
Huelle’s collection of stories, mainly set in his native Poland, looks back to the country’s past, depicting various episodes in recent (and not-so-recent) history.  Bookended cleverly by two stories which have an unexpected connection, the work contains a mixture of tales, some of which verge on magical realism.  Home is where the heart is – but when the heart returns after a long absence, Huelle’s protagonists can often be disappointed.  Unlike his readers 🙂
Does it deserve to make the shortlist?
I’d have to say probably not.  It’s a great read, but it’s also a bit of a mixed bag and doesn’t always sit well as a collection, despite the first and last stories drawing things together.  There are a lot of good novels on this longlist, and I doubt Huelle will be able to knock off ten of the other fifteen works…

Will it make the shortlist?
Again, probably not.  As Boyd Tonkin remarked last week, publishing short stories in translation is a feat of ‘double suicide’, and while all the other works here are translated, I suspect that the chances of a short-story collection making it any further than this are slim.  Then again, I have been known to be wrong on occasion…

Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas (translated by Rosalind Harvey and Anne McLean – from Harvill Secker)
What’s it all about?
Your guess is as good as mine…

Let’s just say it centres on Samuel Riba, an extremely literary publisher who decides to take a trip to Dublin for Bloomsday.  There’s a lot of meta-fiction, rain, paintings, music, books, more rain, a man in a blue jacket and a few drinks along the way too.

If you were expecting more information from my full review, you’ll be sorely disappointed 😉

Does it deserve to make the shortlist?
Oh, yes.  This book was a whisker away from being my pick of 2012 (from a list of 125), and as Andrei Bely’s Petersburg is not in the running for the IFFP (mainly due to a sub-clause banning entries from the deceased…), I think it could go all the way.  The shortlist is just the first step.  Mind you, I was fairly confident about Amos Oz’s chances last year too…

Will it make the shortlist?
Definitely.  And if it doesn’t, the judges should hang their heads in shame – bad judges.

There you go – all caught up.  Normal service will resume next week when I hope to bring you the next instalment of our literary travelogue…

…twelve more stops to go 🙂


4 thoughts on “IFFP Reviews 3 & 4 – Round-Up

  1. Agree with dublinesque it is one of the four or five in this list that any other uear would win ,I recently finished cold sea stories ,I liked it but felt a couple of stories were weak ,all the best stu


  2. Stu – 'Dublinesque' will be up there – I'll have more of a feel for its chances when I get through more of the longlist (almost finished number 8…).


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