An invite to the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Award Ceremony took me to London last week, specifically to RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) on Great Portland Place.
where I met bloggers David from Follow the Thread and Stu from Winston’s Dad as well as blogger-turned-vlogger William from Just William’s Luck. I availed myself of the refreshments …. of course I did – the event was sponsored by Taitinger ….
A couple of glasses later and it was time for Boyd Tonkin to deliver his speech.
1) Translated fiction does have a wide-spread audience (Top 3 UK fiction bestsellers w/c 22/05/2014 were all translations)
2) A special mention to the Shadow IFFP panel (that made Stu and David smile)
3) Another special mention for The Mussel Feast. (A bitter sweet moment – oooooh, it hasn’t won but there’s never been a special mention before – hooray! And I must say the Peirene Nymph behaved with absolute grace on the night. One day, Peirene, one day.)
4) The winner is The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright.
The audience applauded heartily though I confess to mixed feelings. I am delighted for Comma Press, the author, the translator and the short story. (That’s the second short story collection to take a major prize this year; the Folio Prize went to George Saunders’ collection Tenth of December.) But it’s not a winner, I’m likely to read. It doesn’t appeal. (Cf Shadow IFFP review from Dolce Bellezza)
Still enough of my grumblings – there was champagne to imbibe and German author Birgit Vanderbeke and her translator, Jamie Bulloch to chat to. I also met translators Frank Wynne and Shaun Whiteside. And, of course, the nymph Peirene. (The rumour mill has it that she had a sore head the morning after … I confess, I made sure her glass was kept topped up …. What else can you do? 1 glass to commiserate, 1 glass to celebrate, and repeat ….)