Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 15, 2012

Blooms of Darkness wins 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

Blooms of Darkness

Well, 24 hours ago the Shadow IFFP announced its choice of winner for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: we selected From the Mouth of the Whale  by Sjon.  All of us felt that it was an exceptionally good book and were happy to endorse it as our winner.

However today in London the actual winner was announced – and I’m just as pleased to see that Blooms of Darkness by Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld was the official winner.  It’s a very fine book, and you can see my review here.

My fellow juror-and-conspirator from Australia, Tony from Tony’s Reading List has written a thoughtful post (in his usual inimitable style!) about the experience of contributing to one of these Shadow juries, and well, I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Check it out here.

The real winners, I think, are those who take a step out of their comfort zone and read a book in translation.  As the chair of the Shadow Jury, Stu from Winston’s Dad often says, it’s an opportunity to ‘read the world one book  at a time’!

Check out some of the other Translated Books I’ve reviewed by clicking here, or on the tag in the RH menu.

To my fellow jurors Stu, Gary, Mark, Rob, Simon and Tony– thanks, gentlemen!

Author: Aharon Appelfeld
Title: Blooms of Darkness, A Novel
Translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
Publisher: Schocken Books, 2010
ISBN: 9780805242805
Source: Personal library

Fishpond: Blooms of Darkness


  1. Thanks for the tip off. I heard Boyd Tonkin talking about the shortlist at the London Book Fair. I’ll add Blooms of Darkness to the A Year of Reading the World list


  2. It has been a great experience, whatever the outcome ;)

    I brought it upon myself, however – here’s a quote from my review of ‘Blooms…’:

    “Will it make the shortlist?
    Probably not. There will be people who like this, for the setting, the unfolding relationship between Hugo and Mariana and the melodramatic end. I can’t see the judges elevating this above many of the other longlisted titles though; it’s too average.

    Then again, I said pretty much the same about Please Look After Mother…”

    Oh, the irony!


    • *chuckle*
      AH well, them’s the breaks. I would have had egg on my face if That Emperor thing had won, eh?!


      • Erm, yes ;)


  3. Thanks from one who has been watching the experience. I am not as “into” works in translation as many are so I do appreciate the efforts of the Shadow Jury in helping me make some choices. I’ll try to read both the Shadow and Real choices and check back with an opinion.


    • You’re welcome, Kevin:)
      I’ll be interested to see your reviews.


  4. I was in the middle on blooms ,but hearign Aharon talking about the book and love between marianne and Hugo maybe made me think it wasn’t as bad as I thought he said there love was the one good thing in all the evil ,all the best stu


    • Yes, and I liked that Marianne was so flawed. I mean, I had had the impression that the people who risked their lives to save Jews were all people motivated by a noble cause, mostly nuns and priests and people with strong religious faith whose conscience and moral code led them to take these risks. But Marianne just stumbled into it through a not-very-close friendship, and muddled her way through because she came to love the boy. By showing a really weak person like Marianne standing up for what’s right, the author has made a powerful rebuttal of the prevailing view that ordinary Germans were somehow incapable of doing anything other than going along with the evil.


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