The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize long-list for 2010

The literary award season is in full-swing. This week, long-lists for several prizes were announced including that for the 2010 Orange Prize. I like prizes that focus on international (or global) literature and of course, prizes for women’s literature.  The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, run by British newspaper The Independent, honors contemporary fiction in translation available in the UK. It is the only prize that recognizes both the novelist and the translator of the winning book.

The books on this year’s long list are:

  • The Coronation by Boris Akunin (translated by Andrew Bromfield from the Russian) – a historical novel about the Romanovs, set in the 1890s
  • To Music by Ketil Bjørnstad (trs Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik; Norwegian) – a coming-of-age story about a 16 year old musical prodigy.
  • The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim (tr. Johnathan Wright; Arabic) – a collection of short stories examining the relationship between the West and Iraq.
  • Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel (tr. John Cullen; French) – a story of post Second World War France narrated by a survivor of Nazi concentration camps.
  • The Blind Side of the Heart (tr. Anthea Bell; German) – about a woman who cuts emotionally ties with her 7-year old son
  • Fists by Pietro Grossi (tr. Howard Curtis; Italian) – a collection of three stories about young boys and their transformation into young adults.
  • Yalo by Elias Khoury (tr. Humphrey Davies; Arabic) – about a Beirut criminal and his numerous confessions for rape, robbery and arms smuggling
  • The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell  (tr. Charlotte Mandell; French)  – a historical fiction novel narrated by a  former SS officer
  • Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou (tr. Helen Stevenson; French) – about the patrons, including one nicknamed Broken Glass, of a run-down bar in the Congo.
  • Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 3; Poison, Shadow and Farewell by Javier Marías (tr. Margaret Jull Costa; Spanish) – the conclusion of the trilogy about Jacques Deza’s life
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (tr. Stephen Snyder; Japanese) – story evolves around a young housekeeper and her ten-year-old son, who are  linked to a retired university professor through numbers.
  • Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Piñeiro (tr. Miranda France: Spanish) – a crime novel about a triple homicide in the most desirable house of a posh suburb in Argentina.
  • Chowringhee by Sankar (tr. Arunava Sinha; Bengali) – story of a group of individuals who operate an exclusive hotel in Calcutta.
  • The Dark Side of Love by Rafik Schami (tr. Anthea Bell; German) – a story of forbidden love set against the background of Arabic culture,
  • Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher (tr Humphrey Davies; Arabic) – a novel about a society at war and a marriage in trouble

All these books sound very interesting. I haven’t read any of the books but I will probably pick three from the list to read this year. The short list of six books will be announced in April.

Have you read any of these books? What literary awards do you follow?



  1. this list is good have kindly ones ,broken glass and first of javier marias book on tbr ,there are some ommisons thou not many books from us publishers like new directions ,dalkey archive or archipelago books .


    • Omissions you say. Care to list some that should have been added to the list. I’ve been wanting to pick up the first of the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy. But I read Marias’ A Heart So White some years back and absolutely hated it. But i will probalby get it and read it – have to give him one more chance to impress me! A lot of people rave about his work.


  2. I haven’t read any of them, but have just started The Kindly Ones and would love to read The Housekeeper and the Professor. I don’t really know much about any of the other books, but I do love this prize so will try to do a bit more research into the books.


    • The Housekeeper and the Professor is one of three that I would like to read this year. I’m eagerly awaiting your review of The Kindly Ones when you finish the book.


  3. I’ve read Sunset Oasis, The Dark Side of Love, and Yalo, and am reading Madman of Freedom Square now.

    Yalo is brilliant, although my husband is reading it on my advice and texted me this morning, “Please, no more books with graphic torture.”

    I find flashes of great beauty in Madman of Freedom Square, but based on the previous sentence probably will not recommend it to my husband.

    Mm, clearly my reading has become too narrow. Must vow to read some non-Arabic literature this month. Since I trust Anthea Bell, maybe The Blind Side of the Heart….


    • OMG. I’m so impressed. You’ve read quite a lot on the list. Thanks for the insights. I was leaning towards Yalo and the Madman of Freedom Square. Thanks for stopping by.


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