Independent Foreign Fiction Prize celebrates 25 years with first German winner since Sebald!
‘The End of Days’ by Jenny Erpenbeck (published by Portobello) has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Erpenbeck, described by Michel Faber as ‘one of the finest, most exciting authors alive’ shares the £10,000 with her translator, Susan Bernofsky. They were presented with the Prize at an award ceremony supported by Champagne Taittinger at the Royal Institute of British Architects on Wednesday 27 May.
Having been longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2001 for ‘The Old Child, The Book of Words’ and then shortlisted in 2011 with her novel ‘Visitation’, Erpenbeck is the only living German author to have won Prize in its 25-year history. W. G. Sebald, (‘Austerlitz’ which won in 2002) and Gert Hofmann (‘The Film Explainer’, won in 1995) were both awarded the Prize posthumously.
She beat off opposition from Haruki Murakami, Erwin Mortier, fellow German Daniel Kehlmann, Colombian Tomás González and Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel from Equatorial Guinea.
‘The End of Days’ is a story of the twentieth-century traced through the various possible lives of one woman. Moving from a small Galician town at the turn of the century, through pre-war Vienna and Stalin’s Moscow to present-day Berlin, Erpenbeck homes in on the moments when life follows a particular branch and ‘fate’ suddenly emerges from the sly interplay between history, character and pure chance. Described by judge Antonia Lloyd Jones as ’a work of genius‘, it offers a unique view on twentieth-century history; a period with which many readers are already familiar.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was launched in 1990 and ran until 1995. The Prize was revived with the support of Arts Council England in 2001 and is now managed by reading charity Book Trust. The £10,000 Prize money and associated costs are supported using public funding by Arts Council England. The Prize is also supported by The Independent and Champagne Taittinger.
The 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was won by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim and translator Jonathan Wright for ‘The Iraqi Christ’, published by Comma Press. Previous winners of the Prize include Orhan Pamuk and translator Victoria Holbrook in 1990 for ‘The White Castle’; W.G. Sebald and translator Anthea Bell in 2002 for ‘Austerlitz’; and Per Petterson and translator Anne Born in 2006 for ‘Out Stealing Horses’.
More information about the Prize is available at Book Trust and on Twitter by following: @Booktrust and #iffp.