Posts Tagged ‘Independent Foreign Fiction Prize’

This week is the London Book Fair, and on Tuesday I went down to London for the first day of the Fair. I was a little low on funds after having already spent a fortnight there on placement recently, so I decided to just go for the one day, which turned out to be a l-o-n-g daytrip when you’re travelling from Cumbria to London and back in a day! I had to get the first train of the day just before 7am and and got to the Fair around 10.45am.

Earl's Court Exhibition Centre

Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre

This year is quite special because the LBF is moving next year to Olympia, so it’s their last year at Earl’s Court which is quite sad! This is my 4th year of visiting the LBF and I felt that I had to go to Earl’s Court one last time! I can’t believe they’re redeveloping it!

The writing on the ground about the history of the Fair at Earl's Court, and the future move to Olympia.

The writing on the ground about the history of the Fair at Earl’s Court, and the future move to Olympia.

I had planned to go to the Great Debate first at 11am, but by the time I’d checked my stuff into the cloakroom and worked out where everything was, I had missed the start of it so I decided not to bother and to check out something else instead.

My first seminar was at the Literary Translation Centre, one of my favourite sections of the Fair: Where are the Women in Translation?

Where are the Women in Translation? in the Literary Translation Centre

Where are the Women in Translation? in the Literary Translation Centre

I thought this was a really interesting discussion between a 4 woman panel, watched by a mainly female audience! Some important things that were covered:

  • The impossibly low amount of women in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
  • Possible reasons that women aren’t being published in translation – assertiveness, sexism, etc.
  • The situation in Korea on women in translation.
  • Ways we can get women’s books out there.
  • Gender-biased book covers.

I really enjoyed the seminar, and learnt a lot from it! I’m determined to find some of these great female authors and translators and get their books the attention they deserve!

Then I went to the SYP’s event How to get into Publishing which was very useful, although I already knew a lot of what is required of people trying to get into publishing. I went mainly to see if there was anything new and to hear about the experiences of people already in the industry because they are always interesting to hear. Essentially, you need to have Curiosity, Initiative and Enthusiasm! My only problem was that they all said they were lucky and in the right place at the right time when they got their lucky break, which doesn’t really help those of us who are struggling to get a foot in the door!

I also went to How to get ahead in Publishing, also by the SYP. This event was also very useful, although probably more aimed at those already in publishing, but it’s useful to know what you need to aim for and the things to think about as your career progresses. The speakers were really interesting, and their advice and experiences were helpful too.

I went back to the Literary Translation Centre for Finest Foreign Literature at the Fair: The 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. This session discussed the books in the IFFP shortlist. Points that were made included:

  • There are 3 women’s titles in the 2014 shortlist, but they have taken their time to get into English and were originally published a while ago.
  • Good books last, even if they cover a popular or recent theme/topic.
  • Books have to succeed as an artefact in their own right.

It was great to hear the discussions of the books and translated fiction in general, and I would like to try to read the books in the shortlist, as I was inspired to read a few books from previous years’ shortlists!

The panel discussing the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014

The panel discussing the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014 at the Literary Translation Centre

I went to The English PEN Literary Salon to listen to two author interviews, Kyung-sook Shin in Conversation with Arifa Akbar, which was translated from Korean to English and took a bit of time, and Helen Dunmore in Conversation with Jane Shilling.

The English PEN

Kyung-sook Shin in Conversation with Arifa Akbar at the English PEN Literature Salon

Helen Dunmore in Conversation with Jane Shilling in the English PEN Literature Salon

Helen Dunmore in Conversation with Jane Shilling in the English PEN Literature Salon

I didn’t stay for long at either, as I was flagging by this point! They were interesting though. I then had some food and then wandered around the stands for a bit in an effort to perk myself up for the last session!

Then I went to my last seminar, Beyond Nordic Noir: An Overview of the Nordic Literary Market. This was a fascinating and informative session because I didn’t know much about the structure of the book industry in the Nordic countries. The things they discussed included:

  • How the Nordic market is trying to move away from the dark side of Nordic literature – the incoming trend seems to be comic books, the complete opposite!
  • How Norway supports its book industry through various measures, and some important data facts.
  • Examples of authors and books coming out of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

It was a really good session, and I’ll go into more detail about it in my next blog post!

The Beyond Nordic Noir session

The Beyond Nordic Noir session

That was the end of my daytrip to the first day of the London Book Fair, and even though I can’t stay for the other two days, I’m glad I made the trip as it was a very informative day!

Aside from a copy of the Bookseller LBF daily for the first day of the Fair and a copy of Publishing Perspectives, I also picked up a Books Are My Bag tote bag!

Books are my Bag

Books are my Bag

Now I have a way to show the world that “Books are my Bag”!

I hope you enjoyed the London Book Fair if you went! I will be writing some more posts soon with more about the seminars I went to and my thoughts on the issues raised.


Yeah, i know, who doesn’t have a huge pile of books to read!?

Somehow i have ended up with a pile of books waiting! I keep buying them and take ages to get round to reading them!

My latest collection:

I ended up buying three books in my local Oxfam bookshop last week – i only meant to drop off some old clothes but left with the following books:

Oxfam books

Oxfam books

  • “Losing You” by Nicci French
  • “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • “A Dictionary of the English Language: An Anthology” by Samuel Johnson

The first was picked because i’ve read a few other books by the authors and enjoyed them. The second i have been wanting to read for a while. The last book is purely for my geeky side and my love of reading about the English language!

Other books on my pile include:

  • “Delicacy” by David Foenkinos – had this sitting on my bedside table since i went to the London Book Fair (so about 2 months!)

    Delicacy - David Foenkinos

    Delicacy – David Foenkinos (via Amazon)

  • “The Language of Others” by Clare Morrall – another Oxfam find from a few weeks ago

    The Language of Others - Clare Morrall

    The Language of Others – Clare Morrall (via Amazon)

  • “Tickling the English” by Dara O’Briain – a book i bought over a year ago and returned when i realised my mum had a copy already. I forgot about it until i saw it on her shelf the other day and nabbed it!
Tickling the English - Dara O'Briain

Tickling the English – Dara O’Briain (via Amazon)

And that’s just the physical books! I have even more on my Kindle!

A short selection includes:

  • “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy – i have just started reading this, having meant to for a while. Never studied it at school so thought i’d give it a whirl!
  • “New Finnish Grammar” by Diego Marani – another one i’ve started. A translated title which was a runner-up in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012. I was intrigued by the plot and wanted to try another translated title!
  • “Ulysses” by James Joyce – because i fancied a challenge!
  • “The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life” by William Nicholson – because it sounded interesting (and was free!)

I better get reading!

I have just spent 2 days at the London Book Fair, having been for the first time last year and really enjoyed the experience, and decided to make it an annual trip!

Unfortunately i was only able to go for the Monday and Tuesday, as i couldn’t really afford to stay 3 nights in a hotel in London! Since i was travelling and staying in London alone, i decided that staying in a national chain of hotels was a better option than in some grotty dive like last year! Plus i wanted to actually get at least one decent meal during my trip!

Woke up on the Monday morning to glorious sunshine making London look a lot more attractive! After a big breakfast i hopped on the Tube to Earls Court Exhibition Centre:

The London Book Fair 2012 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre

The London Book Fair 2012 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre

Seminars etc which i attended:

Literary Translation Centre

  • Publishers resources for National Literatures
  • Back to Basics: Getting started in translation Q&A
  • Gatekeepers
  • Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
  • World Literature: How much does it mean to us?
  • The Great Debate
  • Your job in publishing: Recruitment and retention in the digital age
Author events:
  • Caitlin Moran interviewed by Sophie Heawood
The seminars were all very interesting, and quite useful in some respects, especially the translation ones as i’m still interested in translated fiction since doing my MA dissertation on the topic. I also talked to a few foreign arts councils and organisations about their books being published into English and got a few lists of books to have a look at. Hopefully i’ll find some good books to read and review!

What i learned:

  • That someone is FINALLY conducting some data research to find out what the status of translated fiction is in the UK market, after the supposed 3% figure which has been bouncing around the industry for years with no clue when or where it came from.
  • That to get a job in publishing, i need to get more office work experience AND prove that my social networking skills are actually being put to good use (i.e. that i’m promoting my blog properly and in what capacity).

Books i will now read after hearing about them:

  • After going to the discussion on the Monday about the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist, i decided to read all 6 books, and to finally get around to reading the one which i already have (“New Finnish Grammar” on my Kindle).
  • “How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran – I saw the interview with her on the Tuesday and thought she was really funny, so i went out and bought the book when i left the Fair!
Caitlin Moran interview

Caitlin Moran interview

My Highlights

  • The discussion with my fellow MA Publishing Alumni about J.K. Rowling’s new book due out later this year – We felt that the title (“The Casual Vacancy”) doesn’t sound brilliant and the plot sounds a little bit boring. But none of this matters because i suspect we will all buy and read it regardless, as will everyone else, meaning it will be a bestseller!
  • The Great Debate: “In the fight for survival, outsiders and startups are taking on today’s heavyweights and will ultimately deliver a knock-out punch”. – Allen Lau (CEO, Wattpad) described how traditional publishers are going the way of dinosaurs and will be “driven into near-extinction”, and also how publishers are like the appendix because it exists but is useless. A little harsh, maybe?! The pre-debate poll revealed 88 for, 37 against, and 82 undecided (including me!), and closed with 41 for, 147 against, and 37 undecided. I admit i did vote for the resolution in the end, but now i’m not so sure!
  • I loved the roof above the China Market Focus Pavilion, and wanted to take it home!
China Market Focus Pavilion roof

China Market Focus Pavilion roof

Slightly odd or amusing sights:

  • The LBF Lobster!
  • The weird girl sat in the English PEN Literary Cafe who gave me and a friend the evil eye as we walked past. No idea why!
  • I spotted a publisher called Meyer and Meyer Sports, which is my surname!
Meyer and Meyer Sports at the LBF12

Meyer and Meyer Sports at the LBF12

Things that bugged me:

  • Constantly being asked if i wanted a massage from the red-shirted or white-shirted rival massagers dotted around the Fair.
  • The photo of J.K. Rowling looked a little smug as she watched over us ( i do like her and Harry Potter but this poster just shows how much the publisher idolizes her).
  • People aimlessly wandering into your path as you try to get somewhere.
  • The food available at the exhibition centre is too expensive for what it is – cost me almost £5 for a bottle of water and a chocolate muffin! I walked up the road to Tesco because it was cheaper for lunch!
JK Rowling

JK Rowling looking a bit smug

I quite enjoyed my 2 days and learnt a lot, even though i didn’t do so well at the networking – i just find it so daunting! Will definitely being going next year if i can, and hopefully i might actually have a proper job within  the industry by then!