Authors Haruki Murakami, Erwin Mortier and Daniel Kehlmann have made the shortlist for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
Also shortlisted for the £10,000 award are two writers whose work has been translated from Spanish into English for the first time: Tomás González and Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel.
Now in its 25th year, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is managed by reading charity Book Trust and sets out to honour contemporary fiction in translation. The £10,000 prize money is divided equally between author and translator.
Murakami [pictured] is shortlisted for his novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel (Harvill Secker), which tells the story of a man’s attempt to understand why his four best friends abandoned him sixteen years before. Meanwhile, Mortier is shortlisted for While the Gods Were Sleeping, a First World War novel told from the Flemish point of view, translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent (Pushkin Press).
Kehlmann has made the shortlist for his comic novel about the three sons of a troubled and absconding father, F (Quercus), which is translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway. Fellow German author Jenny Erpenbeck is shortlisted for The End of Days (Portobello Books), a story of the 20th century told through the various lives of one woman, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky.
Colombian Tomás González is shortlisted for In the Beginning Was the Sea, translated by Frank Wynne (Pushkin Press), about a couple who abandon city life for a new life on a remote tropical coast. Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, from Equatorial Guinea, is shortlisted for By Night the Mountain Burns (And Other Stories), which recounts the narrator’s childhood on a remote island off the West African coast and is translated by Jethro Soutar. The latter is only the second novel from Equatorial Guinea ever to be translated into English and it was selected by And Other Stories through its international reading groups programme, which invites readers to propose suitable titles for translation.
Kehlmann, Erpenbeck and Murakami have all been shortlisted for the prize before, as have their respective translators Carol Brown Janeway, Susan Bernofsky and Philip Gabriel. Translator Frank Wynne has previously won the prize in 2005 with his translation of Windows on the World, written by Frédéric Beigbeder (Harper Perennial).
This year’s shortlist was chosen by a panel of five judges from 111 titles from 28 source languages. The 25-strong longlist was announced last month and it included Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Boyhood Island, the third book in his My Struggle series (Harvill Secker).
Claire Shanahan, non-voting chair of judges and head of Arts at Book Trust said of the shortlist: “Books play an increasingly important role in our understanding of the world around us. They start an introduction into a wide tapestry of knowledge and culture, which can help readers understand who they are and the place they have in the world. This shortlist encapsulates the excitement of looking outwards and discovering new and different voices.”
She added: “As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Prize, it’s poignant to reflect on the consistent quality of good writing and translation being brought to readers from around the world. Over the past five years, we’ve received 595 submissions in 44 different languages, highlighting the richness and variety of fiction from across the globe."
Judge Boyd Tonkin, senior writer and columnist for the Independent said he was “delighted” by the “diversity, the originality and the reader-friendly accessibility” of the shortlist.
There will be an event for the shortlist held at Foyles’ flagship store in London on Thursday 16th April as part of London Book & Screen Week, with the winner announced at a special ceremony held at the RIBA on Wednesday 27th May.