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Independent Minded

April 2004

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 And see new, unpublished work by finalists Fred Vargas, Juan Marsé, the Italian quartet formerly known as Luther Blissett now signing themselves Wu Ming, Ricardo Piglia, and Lars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.