Stuart Allen on the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize winner
My day at the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize started on a damp day in Derbyshire as I made my way to the station, so two hours later I arrived in the big smoke, had a coffee with a good friend who is also a books blogger, then got ready for the awards. Suited and booted I made my way toward the London Review Bookshop where I'd arranged to meet Rob of Rob around Books and Simon of Inside Books.
As I wandered my way through Bloomsbury, which happened to be caught in monsoon season, so I arrived at the LRB a bit like a drowned rat. After some blogger chat, I set off with Rob and his lovely wife; we made our way to the prize at the wonderful Georgian-built headquarters of RIBA. We arrived, nervously grabbed some seats. I then spoke to Nikesh from Booktrust and Stuart Evers, a new writer who came from a town where I spent part of my teens.
So as the Tattinger champagne flowed, we noticed some action on the stage and the judging panel were introduced by a lady from there Arts Council. Then we heard from the chair of the judges, Boyd Tonkin from the Independent. He spoke about translation and the inroads it has made recently, in the Crime Genre in particular.
A gasp could be heard. Then Santiago Roncagliolo took to the stage. He read from the opening of Red April.
In his speech he thanked many people but one bit stuck with me - he said the book was for the 80,000 people that had died in Peru during the conflict with the Shining Path.
So then there was drinks and chatting among the guests. I finally meet Meike and Maddy from Peirene. I felt awful as I twice trod on Maddy's toes. Then I was lucky to meet Ravi Mirchandani, the Head Editor of Atlantic books, Frank Wynne the Translator who had done an interview on my blog and organised one with Marcelo Figueras too. We spoke about translation and what he was working on. I then met Nicci and Paul from Maclehose press who I talk to on Twitter. I also met Rosie who has just started the European Literature network, a new site dedicated to literature in translation.
So as you see I had a lovely evening. Many thanks to Nikesh who sorted out me going and feeling like part of the literary elite for a night and congratulations to Santiago Roncagiolo. He is a lovely man whose hand I shook, which made my night complete .The real winner was fiction in translation which is good as it needs to be a winner in my eyes.