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April 2004

Independent Minded


Saturated with prizes of every description, America has no major award for foreign literature. Our most prominent literary awards--the Pulitzer, the National Book Award--disqualify non-U.S. citizens. So we are lucky to have Britain's Independent newspaper's annual foreign fiction prize to highlight the best foreign works translated into English each year. Literary editor of the Independent and prize judge Boyd Tonkin sets the stage by writing of the translation scene in the homeland of English and giving us capsule descriptions of the books on the shortlist. For a taste of the nominated titles, check out our selection from Mrs. Sartoris by Elke Schmitter. And see new, unpublished work by finalists Fred Vargas, Juan Marsé, the Italian quartet formerly known as Luther Blissett now signing themselves Wu Ming, Ricardo Piglia, and Lars Saabye Christensen. For those readers who hate all literary prizes, we apologize, commiserate, and recommend last month's naughty Italian satire, "How to Administer a Literary Prize."

from 54

ITALIAN SOLDIERS! The Communist Party of Slovenia appeals to you: Do not carry out your superiors' orders, do not fire on the Slovenians, do not persecute the partisans, but

from Outside Inside

In the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps, feral wolves, recently reintroduced after centuries of extinction, have begun attacking sheep in their pens-not for food, it seems, but


Iranian author Kader Abdolah describes the plight of a father seeking a burial place for his murdered dissident son.

from Bewitched by Shanghai

Bewitched by Shanghai is narrated by an adolescent, Danny, who lives in postwar Barcelona with his widowed mother. Between school and starting working as an apprentice in a jeweler's

Le Marais

In Things I've Seen, Victor Hugo acts as witness to a good many uprisings in Paris scattered through the reign of Louis Philippe (1830-48). And so he describes the insurrection of May

Hotel Almagro

When I first moved to Buenos Aires I rented a room in the Hotel Almagro, on Av. Rivadavia and Castro Barros. I was finishing the stories for my first book and Jorge Álvarez offered me


Each day that whole summer, apart from the week when she was to learn to swim, Andrea stood at the quay and waited as the Prince drew in to land. It wasn't the passengers she wanted to

On the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

"It's a scandal." My companion, a distinguished translator of British literature into Greek, sighed and shook his head as we walked one night last summer through the tangle of streets

from Mrs. Sartoris

After the afternoon in N., something changed. I became cold-blooded and more demanding at the same time; Michael was surprised at me and sometimes didn't know what to do. He hadn't

from The Girl Who Played Go

45 Min loathes games, he thinks they're a waste of time, but this afternoon, after prolonged pleading, I have managed to make him change his mind. He agrees to play cards on condition


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