IFFP 2015 – Longlist Predictions

The announcement of the longlist for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is just a matter of weeks away, and here at Tony’s Reading List, we’ve been working hard to clear the decks in anticipation of a busy couple of months ahead.  Before we look to the future, though, it’s time to take some time to consider the past.  While second-guessing the fine people on the official panel is a fool’s game, we on the Shadow Panel take it upon ourselves every year to give it a go anyway (let’s not think think too hard  about what that says about us…).  With that in mind, today’s post sees some predictions as to books that may or may not be mentioned when the official list appears (all links are to my reviews).  Never let it be said that I’m not prepared to stick my head out 😉

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First up, I’m tipping another longlisting for an old favourite, Andrés Neuman.  This year saw Pushkin Press release two more of his books in English, both translated by the team of Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia: the short, three-voiced novel Talking to Ourselves, and the superb short-story anthology The Things We Don’t Do.  I’d be very surprised if Neuman’s name wasn’t on the list; however, with each writer only being allowed one submission (as far as I’m aware), I’m not really sure which of the two Pushkin will submit for consideration.  While I preferred the short stories, I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be the novel(la) which will get the nod…

Another old favourite (the publisher, not the writer) is, of course, Peirene Press, and the Nymph will be looking to maintain her perfect record of one longlisted title for each year of the company’s history.  I’ve only read one of last year’s series, but Hanne Ørstavik’s The Blue Room (translated by Deborah Dawkin) has all the hallmarks of another success, even if matching the 2014 special mention achieved by The Mussel Feast might just be beyond its reach.

2015 could also be the year where Gallic Books, a small publisher focusing on works in French, makes the list.  I read (and enjoyed) two of their offerings this year, Nagasaki by Éric Faye (tr. Emily Boyce) and Michel Déon’s The Foundling Boy (tr. Julian Evans).  Unfortunately, The Foundling Boy was published at the end of 2013, and is thus ineligible for this year’s prize, but the sequel (The Foundling’s War, which I haven’t yet read) might be a chance  Perhaps, though, the brevity of Nagasaki will appeal to the over-worked judges 😉

Next up, we have two big names from Scandinavia who have a good chance of making it onto the longlist this year.  The third instalment of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series, Boyhood Island (Harvill Secker), may not have been the best of the three so far, but it should make the cut (although I wouldn’t really expect to see it go any further).  Per Petterson, of course, has already tasted IFFP success (back in 2006 with Out Stealing Horses), and I Refuse (Harvill Secker), my first taste of his work, has a good chance of doing well this year.  The translator for both, by the way, is Don Bartlett 🙂

Finally, two big names of translated fiction could well be on the longlist this year.  Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage (tr. Philip Gabriel, Harvill Secker) was a welcome return to form, and if 1Q84 was able to make the longlist, this one should be a certainty 😉  On the other hand, Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a New Name was a frankly shocking omission from last year’s selection.  I don’t think Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (tr. Ann Goldstein) is as good as the first two novels in the series, but there’s every chance that Europa Editions will have something to cheer about this time around.

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Of course, eligibility is always an important factor in these decisions, and there were a few great books published last year which won’t be chosen.  One of my favourite reads of 2014 was Liveforever by Andrés Caicedo (tr. Frank Wynne) – sadly, books by deceased writers are ineligible, even for a first translation, so this one is out.  Shin Kyung-sook’s I’ll Be Right There (tr. Sora Kim-Russell) did a great job of redeeming the writer (in my eyes) after the frankly awful English-language version of Please Look After Mother, but I’m unaware of any UK edition of the new book.  The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (tr. Susan Bernofsky) does have a UK release slated, but not until February – perhaps this is one for next year 😉

Finally, I’ll look at four books which might be considered, if they are eligible – and it’s a big if…  Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente (tr. Margaret Jull Costa) was one of my top few books of the year, but are Madrid-based publishers Hispabooks entitled to enter it for the IFFP?  Another one of my top-five books for 2014 was Matthias Énard’s excellent novel Zone – however, Fitzcarraldo Editions’ first work in translation was published a few years back in the US by Open Letter Books

Finally, Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-gyu (tr. Amber Hyun Jung Kim) and Haïlji’s The Republic of Užupis (tr. Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton), two of the latest Dalkey Archive Press offerings, are both books I think could be in with a shout of selection.  The big question here is whether Dalkey actually bother entering the IFFP – while the American Best Translated Book Award considers everything out there, in the UK it’s very much an opt-in system…

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So, there you have it – a selection of books that might, can’t and probably won’t be on the longlist 😉  Before anyone starts complaining about obvious omissions, this collection is limited to books I’ve actually read, so I’m fully aware that there are plenty of others out there which could make the grade.  Please come back when the official list has been published to see how well (or badly) I’ve fared in my predictions…

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35 thoughts on “IFFP 2015 – Longlist Predictions

  1. Much same as I’m thinking for my prediction post tony I would include a few others that have caught my eye I not you’ve none from Macle hose the Ferrari was very good from them .Bonita avenue is another I feel for certain will be on the list

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    1. Stu – I didn’t really get to many from MacLehose in 2014 (although I’ve already read two this year!), but I’d agree that Ferrari would be a good bet. It’ll be interesting to see what other people suggest as there’s bound to be a lot I’ve missed 🙂

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  2. I would be thrilled to see Elena Ferrante make the longlist. I just read the ‘My Brilliant Friend’ trilogy a couple of weeks ago. I actually found the second and third books to be stronger than the first, but as a whole it’s a fairly remarkable work! (And none of my subsequent reads have measured up to Ferrante, leaving me in quite a reading funk.) I am now twitching, waiting for September – when the 4th book will be released in English. 🙂

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    1. Jennifer – Really? I’d have to politely disagree. The third book in the series suffered greatly from Lila’s absence, and it felt like we were treading water a little, waiting for the final book to resolve matters. Anyway, while you’re waiting, she does have three other books available in English…

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        1. Lizzy – You must be right then (I’m still finding conflicting dates, but I have seen that date now). I’d be happy if it got chosen as I’ve read it 😉

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          1. iI think it’s got a good chance if the seriousness of past IFFP preferences is taken onto account. Mind they’ll have to set their gender bias to one side …

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            1. Lizzy – It’s not all down to the judges. One thing they made quite clear last year (or was it 2013?) was that they were surprised by how few books written by women were actually submitted. They can’t choose the books if they’re not even entered in the first place…

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  3. Plenty of hot bets here, Tony. I keep hearing great things about Daniel Kehlmann’s F, and wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the list. Even though I’ve ruled myself out of shadowing the IFFP this year, I look forward to following your reviews of the longlisted titles. All the best, Jacqui.

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    1. Jacqui – A fair chance it’ll get the nod, and I’d be happy as that would mean one more German-language book for me to read 🙂 Can’t wait for it all to get underway!

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  4. to be honest, I’ve not read any of those books… yet. but I saw that there were so many rave reviews on The Things We Don’t Do, The Mussel Feast, Murakami’s Colorless, of course Ferrante’s books. They are so popular with bloggers I know. but we never know, right? usually judges of any prizes/awards don’t go the popular way… in my opinion >_<

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  5. I agree with Jacqui about adding F to the list. Speaking of MacLehose Press, I wonder if Look Who’s Back is eligible (or was that published too early in 2014, I can’t remember?). And the Ferrari, of course. On the other hand, Karim Miske’s Arab Jazz may have been published too late – Feb. 2015 – to be eligible – and may be too ‘crimey’ (although it wasn’t the crime element that made me like it, but the social and cultural issues it depicts).

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    1. Marina Sofia – I think ‘Look Who’s Back’ is eligible (and a fair chance), but I hope not because, to be honest, it doesn’t really appeal to me 😉 As I said to Jacqui, I’d like ‘F’ to make it – in fact, if the Ferrari makes it too, I might order both in the original language 🙂

      It’s frustrating having to wait for the announcement…

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  6. What a fabulous post and thank goodness this is coming up, it feels like we have waiting too long since the last one. I have many unread of course, but the fact that you’ll be talking about them again is a great chance to catch up and of course add more to the list!

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            1. Claire – Well, let’s not get carried away. All books are equal, but (as I’ve found out over the past three editions of the Shadow Panel) some are certainly more equal than others 😉

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    1. Emma – I enjoyed it, but I thought the last section was unnecessary – it could have been left for the reader to imagine. Still trying to work ‘The Foundling’s War’ into my schedule too 🙂

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  7. I cannot really comment on too many of these potential titles and have to keep double checking UK release dates. However, as someone who has read most of Per Petterson’s work I was really impressed with I Refuse. The spare dark maturity of the work seemed a good match with Bartlett’s translation. I really did not expect anything to surpass the brilliant Out Stealing Horses (Ann Born). I would be very surprised if it did not make the longlist.

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    1. Joe – This was the first Petterson I’d read, and I really enjoyed it (I’d say that I plan to read some more soon, but I’d only be kidding myself…). I’m pretty sure it’ll be on the list, and it may do very well…

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  8. A great selection – I think you’ve covered all of my best books of last year apart from F – already suggested by a number of people. I did like Alessandro Baricco’s Mr Gwyn but it’s only published in the US (similarly Jean Echenoz’s 1914). Of other translated fiction that made my top ten, both Agota Kristof and Medardo Fraile are sadly no longer with us and therefore not eligible!

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    1. Grant – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ve read a good chunk of the list; however, past experience tells me that there’ll be a fair few books on the longlist that I’ve never even heard of…

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  9. Can’t wait to see the list! I enjoyed The Mussel Feast and would like to see at least one Peirene title on the longlist. I also enjoyed the first two Knausgaard books and wonder if Boyhood Island will make the cut. I haven’t read any Per Petterson books but I have heard good things! 🙂

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    1. Clare – To be honest, I’d be more surprised if Peirene didn’t have a book on the longlist. The IFFP is about promoting literature in translation, and I suspect that Peirene are one of those presses who are regarded favourably by Tonkin and co. As for Knausgaard and Petterson, well, the list is just a few days away… 😉

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