IFFP 2015 – The Shadow Shortlist!

IMG_2040As you will undoubtedly have noticed, a group of hardy literary explorers (including myself) have been slogging their way around the world, experiencing all the delights that this year’s crop of Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlistees have to offer.  While not all of us have managed to visit all the locations so far, we have managed to get enough of an overview to be able to cut the original list down to six finalists – and when I say the original list, of course, I’m including the book we called in after it was inexplicably rejected by the ‘real’ judges 😉

So, enough waffling – who made the (Shadow) grade in 2015?

The shortlisted choices of the 2015 IFFP Shadow Panel are (links are to my reviews):

Bloodlines by Marcello Fois
(tr. Silvester Mazzarella)
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
(tr. Philip Gabriel)
The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov
(tr. Andrew Bromfield)
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
(tr. Susan Bernofsky)
The Ravens by Tomas Bannerhed
(tr. Sarah Death)
Zone by Mathias Énard
(tr. Charlotte Mandell)

So, there you have it – for better or for worse, those are the selections of the eleven-strong Shadow Panel.  Very soon, you’ll be able to compare it with the real thing – which half-dozen books will be more to your liking?

That’s not the end of the journey, though.  Over the next month or so, we’ll be publishing reviews, revisiting some of the books and putting our heads together to come up with the eventual winner.  Drop in when you can to see how the journey unfolds – whether the ending is happy or otherwise, it’s sure to be a memorable experience 😉

13 thoughts on “IFFP 2015 – The Shadow Shortlist!

  1. I just started Zone, just from the introduction alone I can tell it will be up my alley. Taking part on a shadow jury shines a light on the process and compromises that go into compiling long and short lists for major awards. I am planning a post on the experience but want to wait to see how my personal wishlist matches the “real” one. Could be even further off the mark for all I know. In the meantime, back to Zone…


    1. Joe – The lists rarely match up 😉 I think this year has been a different experience for me because with the expanded panel, the influence of any one person is diluted. In the past, Stu and I have had a disproportionate voice, but that hasn’t ben the case this time around. For better or for worse – well, we’ll see… 😉


      1. It has been an interesting experience, I don’t envy the “real” jurors on major prizes. It does illustrate how a favourite can fall through the cracks just to reach consensus.


  2. A great list! I thought Hamid Ismailov’s The Dead Lake was an exceptional read and I’m really looking forward to Erpenbeck’s The End of Days. The others I’ll have to reread a few more reviews and see what might tempt me.

    Looking forward to finding out which title you choose as a winner and to see how these measure up to the official shortlist. Enjoy!


    1. Claire – I’m fairly happy with our list (although I’d personally have liked to see the Mortier there) – I’d still back it over the real one, though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Many thanks to the Shadow Jury for your sterling work. Looks a strong shortlist – and if past years are any guide likely to be better than the official one.

    I’ve read three (the Murakami, Enard and Erpenbeck) all of which are strong, and two were on top of my too-read pile based on the Shadow Jury reviews (Dead Lake and The Ravens) – Bloodlines though had slipped under my radar screen, I’d guessed F would make it instead.

    On Zone, wondered if anyone else has encountered the same issue I did. My original Fitzcarraldo editions copy was actually missing Chapter XVI and was only 507 pages long not 521. I mentioned it on Goodreads and the publisher kindly sent me a new, complete version. Says something about Zone’s style that the missing 14 pages didn’t really disrupt the flow. But wondered how many other rogue editions there were out there?


    1. Paul – I’m not a big fan of ‘F’ – you’ll find out why next week.

      As for ‘Zone’, my review copy had the same issue. The main reason I left reading it so late (Nov/Dec last year) was that I had to get a PDF sent to fill the gap, and the first one didn’t work – and then I couldn’t work out which chapter was missing… It was well worth the wait, though 😉


      1. Thanks. The missing chapter was a good one – but actually reading the book without it made little difference. It is a great novel though and well done calling it in.

        Although the glaring omission from recent IFFP is any Krasznahorkai, albeit I can’t quite work out whether some have been technically published here.

        Re F., look forward to your review. I always tend to enjoy his books in anticipation and when reading than I do on reflection afterwards.

        Interesting to see the “real” jury emphasising readability, a phrase guaranteed to set my teeth on edge. Ultimately though the IFFP is at the Costa / Dame Stella’s Booker end of the spectrum and the BTBA at the Folio /Goldsmith’s end. Always seems something of an understandable geographical bias to each as well – IFFP to Europe, BTTA to Latam. But I actually welcome the differences – would be duplication if they both fished in the same pond.


        1. Paul – I’ll be briefly looking at the BTBA v IFFP issue (again…) in my next post.

          Re: Krasznahorkai – ‘Satantango’ was longlisted a couple of years back, but was very controversially omitted from the shortlist (it was a close runner-up to Enrique Vila-Matas’ ‘Dublinesque’ in the Shadow version). Apart from that, nothing’s really appeared in the UK as far as I know, but I have heard rumours that ‘Seiobo…’ will have a UK edition later this year.


          1. Thanks, I’d forgotten that – it’s worse that the real jury longlisted a Krasznahorkai – and hence presumably all read and discussed it – and then it didn’t even make the shortlist!

            In 21st century never quite sure what it means for a book to be “published in the UK” – I was able to buy it here in 2013 exactly same way as I’d buy any another book – but yes checking it officially comes out on 7 May 2015.


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