Novelist Helen Oyeyemi and journalists Rosie Goldsmith and Boyd Tonkin are among the judges for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015.
The prize is awarded annually for the best work of contemporary fiction in translation, with the winning author and translator each getting £5,000, “recognising the importance of the translator in their ability to bridge the gap between languages and cultures”.
Joining Oyeyemi, who was last year named one of Granta’s Best Young British novelists, arts and current affairs journalist Goldsmith, and the Independent columnist Boyd Tonkin on the judging panel are Antonia Lloyd Johnes, a full-time translator of Polish literature, and Dr Richard Mansell, senior lecturer in translation at the University of Exeter.
Oyeyemi said: “My favourite books don't have that much in common aside from what I'll just call personality; sometimes that's to do with style and sometimes that's to do with a text seeming to respond to being read in real time. The only real way to be sure I get to read as many of these books as possible is to learn every language currently in literary use. But then there'd be no time to read. So judging this prize is my best chance for this upcoming year.”
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was launched in 1990 and ran until 1995, and was revived with the support of Arts Council England in 2001. It is now managed by Booktrust.
Claire Shanahan, head of arts at Booktrust and non-voting chair of judges, said: “In our times of Euro-politics and global climate change, books play an increasingly important role in our understanding of the world around us; the things that divide us and ultimately the things that unite us, that make us human. Having seen the quality of the submissions for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015, all published in 2014, the experienced panel of judges has some tough choices on their hands, but I am certain that together they will highlight to UK readers the very best books from around the world.”
The longlist for the prize will be announced in March 2015. A shortlist will be released in April 2015, with the winner awarded in May 2015.
The 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was won by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim and translator Jonathan Wright for The Iraqi Christ (Comma Press).