Independent foreign fiction prize predictions 2014

Well it’s that time of year again and the IFFP has come around it does seem five minutes since last years prize ,of course for me as a translated fiction blogger the prize is my Oscars and I love doing this yearly guessing post on what I feel should be on the list and what books I need to read from last year so without further a do I shall dive straight in to what I feel will bo on the 2014 IFFP longlist  –

the infatuations


Now straight in with what I feel is a real chance of winning the prize and one I really enjoyed The Infatuations by Javier Marias ,in hat is maybe a big big name short year Marias is maybe the biggest name .the book follows a couple as viewed by a women and the difference from what we perceive and what is actually the truth .my review 

Now also translated from spanish are –

an englishman in MadridAn English man in Madrid is another slow burning spanish novel ,an english art expert is in Madrid just as the first warning of the Spanish civil war are evident .I ve read this but never got to review it so if it makes the list I will ,but a review will be up at some point .

pigs footNow to Cuba and Carlos acosta ,I read this over the weekend it follows three generations in Cuba before the revolution  and a pig’s foot amulet .I hope it makes it as Carlos name would bring the IffP some great publicity .

my brilliant friendNow the first book from Italy is another read and not reviewed book the tale of two close friends it shows the different paths various lives can take over time ,also maybe the chance to learn about the mysterious writer behind the book ,whom very little is known .Which is fun in the 21st century a writer can still hide behind a name relatively unknown .

parrots Flippo BolognaNext up in the bumper year for Italian fiction is this wonderful satire on book prizes a trio of writers ,as you may say the three ages of men ,all try for the big prize as we see behind the scenes of being a writer .My review 

let the games beginNow onto another Italian novel and another satire this on having too much money and maybe losing control ,also has a writer struggling after an early huge hit .My review

every promise Andrea BajaniEvery promise by Andrea Bajani is another Italian novel this one follows a man as his marriages falls apart and he meets an old man and rediscovers himself in russia .My review

Also I may mention the Wu ming novel  Altai that came out from Verso books ,I read the debut and this sounds interesting and again like Elena ferrante they hide some what behind the Wu Ming name these four writers .

Chasing_the_king_of_hearts_smallNow on to Peirene I have read all three Peirene books from last year it is hard to sat which will make the list but I think Chasing the king of hearts an episodic view of the war from a jewish women in Poland was my favourite from there three books last year .My review .

the mussel feast

Then the other I think will be the mussel feast ,a book about being east German but also a book at its heart  about families and how they live and can fall apart .Here is my review .

foundling-boyNow I am currently reading three books two are books I feel may make the longlist and the other is the first in the series because I feel the second book published first may make the longlist anyway reading this The foundling boy by Michel Deon just makes the list published in december and the first from one of France best known writers and member of the French academy .

alexNow I had this early last year but when I saw it was the second in the series and a comment at the time from a fellow blogger about the main character and something that had happened in his past I left it and am now reading Irene the follow-up in the uk but the first book out in the UK .

a french novelI read this also over the weekend a binge on Frank Wynne translations this one centre on the writer himself in a imagine childhood after an actual arrest a few years ago in a cell he relives his youth or what he felt was his youth all very french I feel .



A short french novel about a group of soldiers ,an escaped jewish prisoner and a Pole during a winters night in a house in the Polish countryside as the snow falls what is happening in the war ways heavy in the air .My review 

Devils WorkshopAnother big name this book by Topol deals with the history of the holocaust and how we treat it a very dark satire on what we take from the past and do with it in the present .My review 

my fathers' ghost is climbing in the rainNow my lost gem of last year a son returns home and discovers a lot of secrets about his fathers past as he does so his view of his father changes .My review 

in times of fading light

.Also from Faber whilst mention them is In times of fading light another book I am reading at the moment a from german book prize winner and all about the former east Germany .

revenge by Yoko OgawaA collection of interlocking stories from Japan dark and with a clever recurring motifs through them .My review

the briefcaseNow i did review this in 2012 as it was issued in the us with a different title the uk title is strange weather in Tokyo .a May to December love story Japanese style a former pupil and teacher find solace in one another .My review 

A man in LovePart two in the life of Karl Ove the memoir novel of the Norwegian writers life this time we find him dealing with the early years of his marriage .

the son Andrej NikolaidisAnother father and son tale this time from Montenegro ,we follow a son around his home town after falling out with father .A natural heir to Thomas Bernhard in some ways soul-searching stuff .My review .

Well that is it now a few outsiders I will mention in brief

White mask by Elias Khoury

Crow blue by Adriana Lisboa

The light and dark by Mikhail Shishkin

I will share Tonys list here my fellow shadow judge  a few difference between me and Tony ,he has chosen 8 books ,I have mention 16 books .















The front seat passenger by Pascal Garnier

the front seat passenger

The front seat passenger by Pascal Garnier 

French noir fiction 

Original title – La place du mort 

Translator Jane Aitken 

Source – review copy 

Pascal Garnier was a french writer ,he died in 2010 .I have reviewed  the a26 and Panda theory on the blog I have also read the other two book Gallic books have issued How’s the pain and Moon in the dead eye .So I come this his fifth book keen to see what it was about as I had enjoyed all his other books .This book was reissued just after his death and was originally written in 1997 and was his second novel so is actually the earliest of the novels that Gallic books have translated by him .

From the moment she had left them when Fabien was five ,she was always referred to as Charlotte ,never “Maman 2 .Fabien had never heard his father say  bad word about her ,nor a good word ,he simply didn’t mention her .Like Dreyfus ,he had exiled her to a place in his memory as distant as devil’s island

Fabien had loss early on in his life .  

The front seat passenger follows the usual Garnier trait and that is to take one point and expand it out in the  A26 he took a couple protesting a road being built ,in moon in the dead eye it is a gated community versus gypsies .so The front seat passenger is the story of Fabien his wife is the passenger of the title that died in a car crash with another man ,in the man’s car .It turns out the man was married and the two of the were having an affair and Fabien didn’t know about it.But there marriage wasn’t great but  he didn’t know about the affair  ,Fabien has experience loss like this before when his mother disappeared but did this first loss leave a hole in this man ?He learns that the wife of the other man is called Martine .He decides to find her and have a look  at her and then he starts to stalker her .Now Fabien is lucky he has a great friend  Madeleine whom is trying to help her good friend stay out of real trouble .Well to see how this pans out I would suggest buying the book to find out what happens to Fabian .

Fabien was astonished at how fast he was getting over his loss .When he forced himself to think about Sylvie ,like an invalid testing the progress of their convalescence, he felt as if he were looking back on someone else’s memories .Perhaps that was what as meant by ” turning the page ” the blank whiteness of the new page gave him vertigo .So he began to darken the page by writing ” Martine  Arnoult , 45 Rue Charlot , Paris 3rd 

Has he got over her or is his grief taking a darker turn ?

Well as ever Pascal Garnier is shining a light in the darker place of the human soul loss ,grief ,betrayal .Fabian is shocked when he finds out about Sylvie his wifes accident and even more so when he finds she had a lover .The way he deals with it in becoming a stalker and trying to get some revenge this  isn’t the usual way people would deal with this ,but this is the beauty of Garnier and his books the twists they take ,this isn’t the first of the last twist this book takes .The book is written in short chapter and is only 140 pages long so is one of those books that can be quite easily read in an evening . If you like your stories dark with a couple of twists this is the book for you .

#translationthurs hits a cover

Now when I suggest using the hashtag #translationthurs every Thursday to promote books in translation very week did I ever imagine it would find its way on to a book in translation but it has next month Arcadia books are publishing Zenith hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane a prize winning French novella that I feel is one of the best books in the last few years subtle heart wrenching and lifting the lid on a different France .I will be reviewing the book nearer the time but thought I would share the fact a little idea I had four years ago has hit a book cover

Polychrome by Joanna Jodełka


Polychrome by Joanna Jodełka

Polish crime fiction

Original title polichromia

Translator – Danusia Stok

source – review copy

Joanna Jodełka is a female polish crime writer she has so far published three novels in Polish this her first book won the top lit prize for crime in Poland the High calibre prize .This is her first book to be translated to English .

He’d put off talking to his mother for almost a month.And not long ago he’d been happy not to have to listen to her grumbling so frequently about his having let Malina go .It was so damm painful every time .They’d been together for six years .He’d been the one to mess things up when a year ago ,they’d agreed to part .

Maciej worries about his very overbearing mother and what to tell her .

Polychrome is set in the Polish city of Pznan ,which for me was the first book I had read to be set in this city .The book focuses on two at first unconnected murder in the town ,one of these murders of a retired art restorer happens to have happen in one of the upper class parts of the city the Villa area .Brought into investigate these crimes are Maciej Barrtol and his partner .Now Maciej is a chap in his mid thires with his own problems outside work .Now the two bodies where both found in strange places and strange positions ,now the two victims actually seem at first to have nothing in common ,but as the clues start flying in and they are no near they finally get a strange break about symbols and symbolism to do  with the bodies so they visited Madga an expert of Medieval symbols and symbolism  to get some help .The lack of a connection is actually a connection more in the death and  how they died .

Everybody’s life is riddled with secrets

Now this is the back cover quote from the book and it suits it perfectly as they all have secrets in this book .

Now yet again Stork books have brought us a prize-winning Polish crime novel to English.All the talk ion recnet years of Nordic crime and french crime fiction for me of the books of=ver that time I have read it has always been the Polish crime novels that have been the most challenging and inventive books around .Now on the surface I bet you are all thinking that is rather Dan brown like with the talk of symbols and symbolism  but no to me it remind  me more of the tv series White chapel were the past is just used as a guide to the present .Now Joanna Jodełka lead character Maciej is in the usual mould of a  detective in a modern crime fiction novel ,in his mid thirties ,with problems the difference is in his problems ,his relationship has recently broke up and he is now with his rather overpowering mother at home .This book cleverly scatters clues and keeps you turning the pages as you find the ones that matters and the red herrings along the way .So I hope we get to see her other two books in English as this is the first of a series and I’d love to learn more about Maciej and also his partner who here is there but feels like he has more to tell .

Have you a favourite novel from Polish crime oeuvre ?

Oliver VII by Antal Szerb

oliver VII Antal Szerb

Oliver VII by Antal Szerb

Hungarian Fiction

Original title – VII. Olivér

Translator – Len Rix

Source personnel purchase on kindle

Antal Szerb is another writer that was rediscovered by Pushkin press .Antal Szerb was born to Jewish parents ,but was baptised into the Catholic church ,studied Hungarian German and English ,lived in France and Italy ,even spent a year in England .this book was originally issued  in 1924 in Hungary as though it was a translation from English as due to his Jewish heritage it couldn’t be published in his homeland .He later  was deported and died in a concentration camp in 1944 .

The situation in Alturia was as follows. Simon II, father of the present king, Oliver VII, had been an outstanding ruler, and the country had suffered in consequence ever since. He modernised the army uniform, established elementary schools, introduced telephones, public ablutions and much else besides, and all this benevolent activity had exhausted the state finances. Besides, as we all know from our geography books, the Alturian people are of a somewhat dreamy nature, fanciful and poetically inclined.

How he came to the throne .

Oliver VII is set in a fiction middle European state Alturia a small state that only exports a few products .But this country  is maybe a mix of all the lazy traits of Europe nations  as the people the King Oliver VII reigns over are actually the most care free and relax bunch ,also  huge dreamers and the King himself is like his subjects so hatches a mad plot to pretend to stage a coup and the return at a later date he in fact overthrows himself  ,then goes and travels too Italy and there falls in with a bunch of Con people who leads to whole unexpected turn of events for the King .


King Oliver entered his capital amid general rejoicing. The streets were a-flutter with flags; the Westros department store was adorned with huge portraits of Oliver and Princess Ortrud, seemingly made from entire rolls of silk and broadcloth; mothers held their children up to catch a glimpse of the happily waving King, and loyal inscriptions such as ‘King Oliver—King of our Hearts’, and ‘We cannot live without Oliver. Long live the Great Triumphal Return!’ were daubed on walls.

When Oliver VII finally returns to Alturia .

Now this book is what I love about Pushkin in a shell ,had they not found and brought Szerb to English readers we would missed this central European lterary Gem .The book is part farce ,part satire .But also maybe a huge comment on what matter as the people of Alturia are poor but happy .There is also a sense of maybe the Europe describe in the book at the time Szerb was writing the book of course mid world war two the idyllic scenes and lives he imagined of the king and his subjects was dying out .I also felt this remind me of the humour of Palin and co in their ripping yarns it has that feel of being just left of real almost believe so yes a tale of a king wanting time of and finding the perfect plan by doing a imagine over throw ,also the american film wag the dog tackled a similar concept in a modern setting instead of a coup using an imagine war .Another book that shows me what is great about small publishers and also translation ,because yes there are many stoners out there, but on the other hands there is loads of Szerb awaiting discovery to use English readers still .

Have you read Szerb ?



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