Winstonsdad Longlist Guess for the IFFP 2013

Well it’s that time of year when the Independent Foreign fiction prize longlist is announced and I m going to do my annual guessing for it .I want to say 2012-2013 has in my humble opinion has been one of the brightest years in recent times so without further ado I’m going try to guess what will make the longlist and when the list is announced tomorrow how many I have got right –

Certain –

Satantango

Satantango by László Krasznahorkai

Well this is the book ,I ve read twice and it is the best book from the last twelve month .A man returns to a remote collective farming village after two years away but has he changed is he the devil .

hhhh laurent binet

HHhH BY Laurent Binet

Probably the most talked about translation in the last twelve months ,two men set of to kill a notorious Nazi Officer .

Dublinesque

Dublinesque – Enrique Vila-Matas

One of the most well-known names in Spanish Literature returns with a new translation and his Homage to Ireland and to the fiction of James Joyce .

Death in the Family, A

My struggle part one(A death in the family ) by Karl Ove Knausgaard

The first of five books that kept Norway hooked for the last few year part bio part fiction .Proust for a modern age .

three strong women

Three strong women by Marie Ndiaye 

The Prix Goncourt from 2009 finally reached us in English the story of three African women show how hard life can be gripping stuff .

traveller of the century

Traveller of the Century by Andres Neuman 

An Argentina writer I had look forward to in English didn’t disappoint a mix of Latin american and Europe set in a medieval Europe .

seven years peter stamm

Seven years by Peter Stamm

Says what it is on the cover but so well written ,A husband strays after they’ve been together for seven years .

where I left my soul Jérôme Ferrari

Where I left my soul by Jérôme Ferrari

Three men in the Algerian war show the many sides of the war and the horrors of war ,he recently won the Prix Goncourt .

where tigers are at home

Where the Tigers are at home by Jean Marie Blas de Robles

The stunning epic and the most overlooked book in the last twelve months .A man in the back and beyond of Brazil ,writes a bio and meet many people .

my brillant friend

My brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Two friend grow up in Fifties Italy ,a story of how two friends from the same place can end up so far apart .

the briefcase

The briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami 

A Japanese take on the May to December story a young women and her old teacher who is retired have a romance .

Necropolis-cover

Necropolis by Santiago Gamboa 

A writer is invited to a strange conference of writers in Israeli .Someone is murder there and we hear the other writers stories .

Our man in IRAQ

Our man in Iraq by Robert Perisic

A Journalist with a trouble marriage sends a family member to the Gulf war to report trouble follows .

Azazeel-Cover

Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan

A monk in the 5th century working on a text is tempt by the devil ,this won the Arab Booker .

Murder of Halland

Murder of Halland by Pia Juul 

My favourite from last years Peirene books a new take on the crime from the wife of the victim and how she copes .

the sounds of things falling

The sound of things falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez 

A man remembers a man he knew and the time of the drug cartels and their power in Columbia

Well sixteen books there and a few others just on the verge for me

Zbindens progress –  Christoph Simon

The island by Carlos Gamerro

The human part by Hari Hotakainen

Heaven and Hell by Jon Kalman Stefansson

What are your thoughts ?

The whispering muse by Sjon

The whispering muse by Sjon

Icelandic fiction

Translator Victoria Cribb

Now I mention a lot of Sjon past in my review of from the mouth of the whale earlier in the year and had a great interview with him on the blog yesterday .So I dispense with usual bio start today .

So whispering muse ,follows quick on the heels of From the mouth I can’t blame Telegram ,There has already been five of his books translated to English by Victoria Cribb ,I met her briefly at the Iffp prize giving and she said she had done five of his books already ready for sales here but also to show the books to publishers around the world .Right this book centres on Valdimar Haraldson ,he is an oddball Icelander that has spent his life writing a seventeen volume book on the connection between fish consumption and the greatness of the Nordic people .Fisk og Kulture ,came with this on every title page .

Its our belief that the nordic race ,which has fished off the maritime coast for countless generations and thus enjoyed a staple diet of seafood ,owes its physical and intellectual prowess above all to this type of nutrition,and that the Nordic race is for this reason superior in vigour and attainments to other races that have not enjoyed such ease of access to the riches of the ocean .

As you see our Valdimar is a first class bore in a lot of ways ,any way that was in the inter war years also with so far out ideas about where the nordic folk came from ,but it’s now 1949 and he has been invited to spend some time on a Danish merchant ship by a former fan of his books .Well that is half the story and  he arrives on the ship and on the end of the first evening they all gather like you do round the ships table and start telling tales of the seafaring days ,one of this crew says he is Caneus one of argo crew from Jason Argonauts from the Greek myth ,Now I know very little on Greek myth in fact my earliest memories of Greek myths are of two things from tv the first is a French Japanese cartoon series called Ulysses 31 ,which moved greek myths to outer space .as we follow Ulysses in his quest to find his way home after he fell out with the gods for killing the Cyclops (rather like bloom in the pub with the one-eyed Irish patriot  oh wonder where Joyce got that idea from )

The other is the film Jason and the Argonauts that was often shown over holidays as I Grew up so I was vaguely aware of the character Caeneus although not in the actual film ,but if you’ ve not seen the film it is well worth seeing as it features some wonderful stop animation from Ray Harryhausen and great intro into the greek myths for people like me that maybe find the idea rather scary .

But it did lead me to read some of the myths around Jason after seeing the film .Caenus was born a women and then became a man and survived on the argo it is these tales he recalls the crew with every evening .So we see  Valdimar who is maybe in some ways the human incarnation of Douglas adams Vogon’s and one does imagine that his books fish and culture are maybe the equivalent of the Vogon poetry .So we see the bore ,start to open his eyes as he is let into the world of Greek myth but also as always with Sjon it is the fact that this is going on and it is just after the war that maybe shows the changing world around them they have cargo from the soviet bloc ,This remind me of a former colleague when I worked in Northumberland that had  been a merchant seaman and his first run after qualifying as a petty officer was to go to the north of Russia and pick some cargo of course being young and not prepared he said he end up wearing margarine to stop frost bite and in a way Valdimar is a man who is unprepared properly for life maybe a Nordic forest Gump ,no that is a bit  unfair he has intelligence is  just focused in the wrong direction ,you may say he even has a mild form of asperegers  where one is so focused on a subject it hard to pull the blinkers down some time due to the nature of aspergers   ,although this isn’t mention in the book it is just a feeling I got from the nature of my work and people I ve meet over the years  .Know from yesterday we know that Sjon was listening to Thelonious monk and rather like monk who I know very little about other than he was rather good at impro piece of jazz that where  rifts on well-known bits of music that spread out and rather like that this book is a rift on Greek myth and how travel can change people. I know  picture old Sjon with a pot full of ideas for books at home picking a few out  and sticking them in his blender of a  mind and coming out with rather wonderful cocktails or in his case novels  .It’s easy to mix genres and ideas up like a cocktail barman might but it takes skill to make the end product work so well like Sjon seems to every time  .So what is The whispering muse well its part travelogue ,part myth ,part odd couple drama with a large twist of dry humour over the top of it .I leave you with Valdimar

My neighbour says I have changed since I came home from my voyage .And I respond with the following question :

“What is the point of travelling if not to broaden your mind ?

Valdimar on his arrival home is he a new man after meeting Caeneus .

 

So do you have a favourite myth or character from myth ?

 

An Interview with the shadow IFFP winner Sjon

1. In both From the Mouth of the Whale and The Whispering Muse there is a seafaring feel do you sail or have a connection to the sea ?

Being born on island means that from an early age you are very aware of the sea. Throughout history things and people have come floating to your shores and the only way out was over the sea. So, I think sailing, swimming, and sinking will always be a part of the stories told on an island. As well as the great depths teeming with strange beings and everything the sea has swallowed.

2. Myth plays a big part in your fiction. What is your favourite myth ?

In general, I like the mischievous gods: the tricksters. So, Loki’s stories are a favourite: especially the one where he helps the Aesir (the principle members of the pantheon of Norse gods) to get out of the deal they made with a giant about building the fortress walls around Asgard. The gods promise the giant the Sun, the Moon and the hand of the fertility goddess Freyja as a reward if he finishes the job in time. When they realize too late that the giant will be able to do it they look to Loki for help. So, Loki transforms himself into a gray mare and lures the giant’s work horse away. Without his horse the giant can’t finish the walls. Later Loki has an affair with the horse, which results in the birth of Odin’s eight legged horse Sleipnir. Sleipnir, is the Nordic Pegasus, who can easily transport us across the borders of the many worlds that make up our universe …

3 .You’ve been connected to music. As I’ve read your books I feel a rhythm. Do you listen to music as you write? If so, what music?

Each of my novels has a special form and style, a new challenge for me to meet, so I listen to different kinds of music while writing them. I usually try to find something that in one way or another fits the theme or the mood of the novel, either by contrasting with it or by complementing it. With From the Mouth of the Whale it was two particular pieces by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt: Alina and Spiegel am Spiegel; with The Blue Fox it was Schubert’s string quartets and with The Whispering Muse it was Theolonius Monk.

4. We all loved Victoria’s translations. How closely did you work with her ?

And I love them as well! How close she wants me to be depends on the work. Sometimes I get many emails with questions about my intention with this phrase or that, or what outside source I am alluding to in one scene or another. Then sometimes she just asks me to read it over when the work is done. I trust her 100% and am always at her service if needed.

5. Which writers have influenced you ?

Samuel Beckett, Karen Blixen, Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, André Breton, Leonora Carrington … To name some of Bs and one of the Cs …

6. As much as your books are historic, are we meant to read a modern context into them ?

Yes, you are!

7 .Which of your books are not yet translated. Should we keep an eye out for any when they come out ?

This year I am finishing the third volume of a trilogy I have been working on since the early 90s. It tells the story of a man in Reykjavik who is telling an eager but sceptical listener the story of how he came into being as the result of the rendez-vous between a Jewish man fleeing the concentration camps and a chamber maid in a guesthouse in northern Germany in the middle of WWII. That he believes himself to have been fashioned from a lump of clay taken from the remains of the Golem of Prague is just one of the threads in the novel. There is also a corrupt stamp-collector, a gender confused archangel, a self-mutilating swimming pool attendant, a government official who believes half of the Icelandic population are descended from werewolves, a girl with four fathers, and many more characters with their own stories and occupations. Yes, I hope you will be on the lookout for those three …

8. For the person that has not read you, can tell them what to expect from you in one sentence ?

The smell of a puffin stew cooking over camp fire flickering in the shadows of gallows built on the ruins of a great library.

9. What’s the literary scene like at home and are there any writers from your
country we should read?

It is quite robust, thank you. Of our contemporary authors, I recommend Kristín Ómarsdóttir. Her novel Children in Reindeer Woods has just been published by Open Letter Books in the US. And for the deceased ones, I recommend our Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness. I am especially fond of his turn of the 20th century novel The Fish Can Sing.

Shadow IFFP WINNER 2012

A quick word from me Stu the Chair of this years Shadow IFFP .I want thank all my fellow Judges for making this such a successful first year for the shadow IFFP .

ROB

SIMON 

Lisa 

Gary 

Mark

TONY 

We all undertook the Journey of judging the 2012 shadow IFFP eight weeks ago .This journey first took us to Asia , 1980’s Tokyo or is it ? ,a mother disappears in Seoul and then a book highlighting the Aids crisis in China were are three stops there .Then we read two Hebrew novel the first set in the present an old man and a village the other a young jewish man on the run in world war two hiding in a most unexpected place .The to Germany and two books dealing with death the first a husband shocked at is wife’s view of him after she is dead ,the other a women called Alice has friends and lovers die around her .We the journey north firstly we meet a professor stuck in a mid-life crisis and having witnessed a murder ,then to meet Chaim the head of a jewish community in a second world war ghetto .We then met a villain of the top order in 18th century europe and a shipwreck man who may or may not be finish in our two stops in Italy .A skip to 1980’s paris a group of friend facing the ,the AIDS crisis face on .lastly a Basque writer takes us to Colonial Africa and a man heading into an army camp gone rogue .This journey hasn’t been the easiest for us as judges most of the books dealt with the dark side of human life and death .But they show the wealth of talent around the world and the wonderful job of modern translators .We as judges have discovered a lot about each other digesting and discussing the books and slowly trimming or list down to our winner and it is with great pleasure we announce our winner .

From the mouth of the whale by Sjon
Translator – Victoria Cribb
Publisher in the uk telegram books
We all liked and some of us loved this book no one really had a bad word about it ,I think from when ever any one of us judges read it we feel for it as a book and Sjon’s voice  .We felt Sjon had captured through Jonas eyes the 17th century Iceland so well ,this was helped by Victoria translation that through its usage of older languages and grammar gave it a feel of a book that had just been unearthed not a modern book .A worthy winner for the fist  shadow IFFP winner 2012

Shadow iffp reviews

Here’s a list of links to all the reviews done by the ‘Shadow’ Jury for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Thanks to Mark for keeping it through out the shadow panel 

IQ84 (1&2) by Haruki Marukami (from Japanese; trans. Jay Rubin) (Harvill Secker)
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad

Alice by Judith Hermann (from German; trans. Margot Bettauer Dembo) (The Clerkenwell Press)
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Tony’s Reading List

Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld (from Hebrew; trans. Jeffrey M. Green) (Alma Books)
Eleutherophobia
Inside Books
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke (from Chinese; trans. Cindy Carter) (Constable)
Winstonsdad
ANZLitLovers
Tony’s Reading List
Eleutherophobia

From The Mouth of the Whale by Sjon (from Icelandic; trans. Victoria Cribb) (Telegram)
Eleutherophobia
Parrish Lantern
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad
Inside Books

Hate: A Romance by Tristan Garcia (from French; trans. Marion Duvert/Lorin Stein) (Faber)
ANZLitLovers
Eleutherophobia
Winstonsdad
Parrish Lantern
Tony’s Reading List

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani (from Finnish; trans. Judith Landry) (Dedalus)
Winstonsdad
Parrish Lantern
Eleutherophobia
ANZLitLovers

Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki (from German; trans. Anthea Bell) (Peirene)
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List
Inside Books
ANZLitLovers
Eleutherophobia

Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas (from Hungarian; trans. Imre Goldstein) (Jonathan Cape)
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List (part one) (part two)

Please Look After Mother by Kyung-sook Shin (from Korean; trans. Chi-Young Kim) (Weidenfeld)
Eleutherophobia
Winstonsdad
Tony’s Reading List
ANZLitLovers
Inside Books

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad (from Norwegian; trans. Agnes Scott) (Harvill Secker)
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Parrish Lantern
ANZLitLovers
Tony’s Reading List

Scenes From Village Life by Amos Oz (from Hebrew; trans. Nicholas de Lange) (Chatto & Windus)
Rob Around Books
Eleutherophobia
Tony’s Reading List
Winstonsdad
ANZLitLovers

Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga (from Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) (Harvill Secker)
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Parrish Lantern
ANZLitLovers

The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg (from Swedish; trans. Sarah Death) (Faber)
ANZLitLovers
Winstonsdad
Eleutherophobia
Tony’s Reading List

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (from Italian; trans. Richard Dixon) (Harvill Secker)
Tony’s Reading List
Eleutherophobia
Winstonsdad
ANZLitLovers
Inside Books

 

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