Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014The shortlist for this prize which is worth £10,000 is announced today. Titles on the longlist which are listed here were chosen by the judging panel from a record number of entries and languages – 126 titles from 30 source languages.

All but 3 titles are in stock (we have other titles by two of those authors) so pleased the coverage of international titles is available in Leeds Libraries.


A Man in Love Karl Ove Knausgård Translated from Norwegian by Don BartlettA Man in Love 

 Karl Ove Knausgaard leaves his wife and everything he knows in Oslo for a fresh start in Stockholm. There he strikes up a deep and competitive friendship with Geir and pursues Linda, a beautiful poet who captivated him years ago. A Man in Love, the second book of six in the My Struggle cycle, sees Knausgaard write of tempestuous relationships, the trials of parenthood and an urge to create great art. His singular insight and exhilarating honesty must be read to be believed. Another international sensation from the publishers of Summertime, 1Q84 and HHhH.  


 A Meal in Winter Hubert Mingarelli Translated from French by Sam Taylor

A Meal in WinterOne morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders to track down and bring back for execution ‘one of them’ – a Jew.  Having flushed out a young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose virulent anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere.  

Before long, the group’s sympathies begin to splinter as each man is forced to confront his own conscience as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear.  

Back to Back Julia Franck Translated from German by Anthea Bell

Back to Back

Käthe is a Jewish sculptor living in East Berlin. A survivor of the Nazi era, she is a fervent socialist who has been using her political connections to secure more significant commissions. Devoted entirely to success, she is a cruel and abrasive mother to her children.

Käthe barely acknowledges Ella’s vulnerable loneliness and Thomas’s quiet aspirations, and her hard-nosed brutality forces her children to build an imaginary world as a shelter from the coldness that surrounds them. But the siblings find themselves enclosed by the Berlin Wall, and unable to pursue their dreams. Heartbreaking and shocking.


  Brief Loves that Live Forever Andrei Makine Translated from French by G. Strachan

Brief Loves that Live Forever

In Soviet Russia the desire for freedom is also a desire for the freedom to love. Lovers live as outlaws, traitors to the collective spirit, and love is more intense when it feels like an act of resistance.  

Looking back after the fall, an orphan recalls with haunting clarity the handful of fleeting moments that came to define him – furtive, thwarted passions played out under the watchful eye of Communism. Lost to introspection, he stumbles upon the truth behind the life of Dmitri Ress – for fifteen years a guest of the state – whose tragic fate embodies the unbreakable bond between love and freedom.  

  Butterflies in November Audur Ava Olafsdottir Translated from Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon

Butterflies in November

Having been dumped by both her lover and her husband on the same day, the narrator – who remains nameless throughout the book – decides to travel to a barren part of the Icelandic countryside to clear her head.

But when her pregnant friend is hospitalised after a fall, she is forced to take a companion with her – her friend’s four-year-old deaf son.

The Corpse Washer Sinan Antoon  Translated from Arabic by the author

The Corpse WasherJawad was born to into a long line of Shi’ite corpse washers and shrouders. Defying his father’s wishes that he continue the family tradition, Jawad enters Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts where he studies sculpture in the late 1980s. As Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, the economic sanctions of the 1990s, and the 2003 invasion and military occupation rip apart the socioeconomic fabric of society, Jawad struggles to forge his own path in life despite the chaos around him. But as mounting tensions between Shi’ite and Suni begin to grip the city and the corpses pile up in astounding numbers, Jawad turns to the washing and shrouding Trained as an artist to shape materials to represent life aesthetically, he now must contemplate how death shapes daily life and the bodies of Baghdad’s inhabitants.

Meili, a young peasant woman born in the remote heart of China, is married to Kongzi, a village school teacher, and a distant descendant of Confucius. They have a daughter, but desperate for a son to carry on his illustrious family line, Kongzi gets Meili pregnant again without waiting for official permission. When family planning officers storm the village to arrest violators of the population control policy, mother, father and daughter escape to the Yangtze River and begin a fugitive life. For years they drift south through the poisoned waterways and ruined landscapes of China, picking up work as they go along, scavenging for necessities and flying from police detection. As Meili’s body continues to be invaded by her husband and assaulted by the state, she fights to regain control of her fate and that of her unborn child. 

 ExposureExposure Sayed Kashua Translated from Hebrew by Mitch Ginsberg In Jerusalem, two Arabs are on the hunt for the same identity. The first is a wealthy lawyer with a thriving practice, a large house, a Mercedes and a beautiful family. With a sophisticated image to uphold, he decides one evening to buy a second-hand Tolstoy novel recommended by his wife – but inside it he finds a love letter, in Arabic, undeniably in her handwriting. Consumed with jealous rage, the lawyer vows to take his revenge on the book’s previous owner.   Elsewhere in the city, a young social worker is struggling to make ends meet. In desperation he takes an unenviable job as the night-time carer of a comatose young Jew. Over the long, dark nights that follow, he pieces together the story of his enigmatic patient, and finds that the barriers that ought to separate their lives are more permeable than he could ever have imagined. As they venture further into deception, dredging up secrets and ghosts both real and imagined, the lawyer and the carer uncover the dangerous complexities of identity – as their lies bring them ever closer together. 

The Infatuations Javier Marías Translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

The Infatuations

Every day, Maria Dolz stops for breakfast at the same café. And every day she enjoys watching a handsome couple who follow the same routine. Then one day they aren’t there, and she feels obscurely bereft.
It is only later, when she comes across a newspaper photograph of the man, lying stabbed in the street, that she discovers who the couple are. Some time afterwards, when the woman returns to the café with her children, who are then collected by a different man, and Maria approaches her to offer her condolences, an entanglement begins which sheds new light on this apparently random, pointless death

The Iraqi Christ Hassan Blasim Translated from Arabic by Jonathan WrightThe Iraqi Christ

From hostage-video makers in Baghdad, to human trafficking in the forests of Serbia, institutionalised paranoia in the Saddam years, to the nightmares of an exile trying to embrace a new life in Amsterdam… Blasim’s stories present an uncompromising view of the West’s relationship with Iraq, spanning over twenty years and taking in everything from the Iran-Iraq War through to the Occupation, as well as offering a haunting critique of the post-war refugee experience.

 The Mussel Feast Birgit Vanderbeke  Translated from German by Jamie Bulloch 

The Mussel Feast

A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on, we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart. ‘I wrote this book in August 1989, just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall.Birgit Vanderbeke is one of Germany’s most successful literary authors. She has written 17 novels. The Mussel Feast won the most prestigious German language literature award, The Ingeborg Bachmann Preis. It has been translated into all major European languages, including French, Spanish and Italian.


Revenge Yoko Ogawa Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder


A woman goes into a bakery to buy a strawberry cream tart. The place is immaculate but there is no one serving so she waits. Another customer comes in. The woman tells the new arrival that she is buying her son a treat for his birthday. Every year she buys him his favourite cake; even though he died in an accident when he was six years old.

 From this beginning Yoko Ogawa weaves a dark and beautiful narrative that pulls together a seemingly disconnected cast of characters. In the tradition of classical Japanese poetic collections, the stories in Revenge are linked through recurring images and motifs, as each story follows on from the one before while simultaneously introducing new characters and themes. Filled with breath-taking images, Ogawa provides us with a slice of life that is resplendent in its chaos, enthralling in its passion and chilling in its cruelty.


 The Sorrow of Angels Jón Kalman Stefánsson Translated from Icelandic by Philip Roughton 

The Sorrow of AngelsIt is three weeks since the boy came to town, carrying a book of poetry to return to the old sea captain – the poetry that did for his friend Bárður. Three weeks, but already Bárður’s ghost has faded. Snow falls so heavily that it binds heaven and earth together. As the villagers gather in the inn to drink schnapps and coffee while the boy reads to them from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Jens the postman stumbles in half dead, having almost frozen to his horse. On his next journey to the wide open fjords he is accompanied by the boy, and both must risk their lives for each other, and for an unusual item of mail.

Strange Weather in Tokyo Hiromi Kawakami Translated from Japanese by Allison Markin PowellStrange Weather in Tokyo Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, ‘Sensei’, in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass – from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms – Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love. 

Ten Andrej Longo Translated from Italian by Howard Curtis


The Mafia and the Ten Commandments meet in these interlinked short stories about the underbelly of Naples. Ten uncovers the raw heart of a city, telling the stories of ordinary people forced to make extraordinary compromises in a place permeated by crime. We encounter a son who finds that he is capable of a terrible act when faced with his mother’s suffering ‘because someone had to do it’; a girl whose only outlet for the horrors of an adult’s abuse is to confide in a stuffed toy; an ancient nightclub singer whose ambition has led him to become a drug tester for a Mafia boss; and Ray-Ban who, during a night of mayhem with his friends, manages to steal the wrong car and pays dearly for it. Each comes to life with painful precision in the hands of Andrej Longo – their fears, regrets, energy and grace. In direct and sometimes brutally raw prose, he conjures a searing new vision of Naples. With the lightest of brush strokes, Longo builds a vivid portrait of a city, its people, and their dreams of escape.