Sinan Antoon, Hassan Blasim on This Year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist

Two Iraqi writers — Sinan Antoon (The Corpse Washer) and Hassan Blasim (The Iraqi Christ) — are joined by Palestinian novelist Sayed Kashua, who writes in Hebrew, on this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (IFFP) 15-book longlist:

IFFPThis is Blasim’s second time on the IFFP longlist, which goes to the “best work of contemporary fiction in translation” published in the UK in the previous year. The prize recognizes both the author and the translator, and it is Jonathan Wright’s second time on the longlist as well — he is recognized this year as the translator as The Iraqi Christ and previously appeared for his translation of Blasim’s The Madman of Freedom Square

While this is Antoon’s first time on the list, Kashua was also previously longlisted. He made the IFFP longlist in 2008 for his Let it Be Morning, translated from the Hebrew by Miraim Shlesinger. Kashua is also the only Arab author to have been shortlisted for Israeli’s most prestigious literary prize.

There are a number of internationally known authors on the 2014 IFFP longlist. Among them: Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard, with his translator Don Bartlett; Spanish writer Javier Marías, translated by the multi-award-winning Margaret Jull Costa; Prix Goncourt-winner Andreï Makine, translated by Geoffrey Strachan, German writer Julia Franck, translated by previous IFFP-winner Anthea Bell.

The legendary Bell has been on the IFFP longlist with seven separate titles, and this is Jull Costa’s sixth time on the longlist. Humphrey Davies — although not on the list this year, as his eye-popping translation of Leg Over Leg is not eligible for the prize, which only goes to living authors — is the most-listed Arabic translator, having made the IFFP longlist three times.

Antoon is the only self-translated author on this year’s longlist, although prize organizers note that, in 2008, Paul Verhaeghen won the prize with his self-translated Omega Minor.

A book translated from the Arabic has neither yet won the prize, nor been shortlisted. A number of Arabic novels have been longlisted, including Elias Khoury’s Yalo, translated by Davies (longlisted in 2010), Khaled Khalifa’s In Praise of Hatred, translated by Leri Price (longlisted in 2013) and Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis, translated by Humphrey Davies (longlisted in 2010).

Later today, there will be a panel discussion of the longlist at the Independent Bath Literary Festival from 2:45 – 3:45 pm in the Guildhall with judges Boyd Tonkin, Nadifa Mohamed and Natalie Haynes. The other two judges for 2014 are author Alev Adil and translator Shaun Whitside.

Of the varied list, judge Natalie Haynes said in a news release: “In the face of so much bland globalisation, it’s both a relief and a delight to see world fiction remains as quirky and individual as ever.”

The shortlist of six will be announced April 8, and the winning author and translator will be announced and awarded their £10,000 Prize at a ceremony in central London on May 22, 2014.

The full list of 15 titles:

A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard and translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Harvill Secker)

A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli and translated from the French by Sam Taylor (Portobello Books)

Back to Back by Julia Franck and translated from the German by Anthea Bell (Harvill Secker)

Brief Loves that Live Forever by Andreï Makine and translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan (MacLehose Press)

Butterflies in November by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir and translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon (Pushkin Press)

The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon and translated from the Arabic by the author (Yale University Press)

The Dark Road by Ma Jian and translated from the Chinese by Flora Drew (Chatto & Windus)

Exposure by Sayed Kashua and translated from the Hebrew by Mitch Ginsberg (Chatto & Windus)

The Infatuations by Javier Marías and translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa (Hamish Hamilton)

The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim and translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright (Comma Press)

The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke and translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch (Peirene Press)

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa and translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)

The Sorrow of Angels by Jón Kalman Stefánsson and translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton (MacLehose Press)

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami and translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Portobello Books)

Ten by Andrej Longo and translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis (Harvill Secker)