Boyd Tonkin on this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize:

What advice would a seasoned observer of the British book market give to a publisher who, like some demented literary version of Mel Brooks in The Producers, wanted to release a novel that stood absolutely no chance of reaching the bestseller lists? Not a book with some faint glimmer of hope, mind you – but one doomed to hobble in among the stragglers? First, make sure that it's very long, complicated, sometimes eccentric and driven by a quixotic idealism. Second, guarantee that the author – little-known on these shores in any case – is safely dead. And last, make this cast-iron catastrophe a translation. Then retire to a bar and toast your fail-safe flop (more...)

Readers Comments

  1. He forgot one piece of advice: commission Andrew Hussey or Philip Oltermann to review it.

  2. Tonkin notes that the prize is for living authors only ("sorry, Larsson and Bolano fans"). Sadly that also excludes Fred Wander's The Seventh Well, his concentration camp novel which I thought was terrific. Translated by - who else? - Michael Hofmann.

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