By now everyone who cares is undoubtedly well aware that while I was sleeping on Friday night Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room was awarded the 2010 UK Crime Writer’s Association’s International Dagger Award for crime fiction translated into English. My heartfelt congratulations and thanks go to Theorin and his translator Marlaine Delargy for what is a wonderful book and a terrific win. Although it wasn’t my personal pick of the bunch I will repeat what I said when I finished all six of the shortlisted books: there wasn’t a dud in the bunch and any winner is deserving. I congratulate the five nominees (indicated by ** in the list below) and their translators too because they were in excellent company.
To look at the bigger picture for a minute I’m also grateful that there is an award for translated crime fiction at all, and also for the great websites that bring these works to my attention, in particular the excellent Euro Crime which is a brilliant source of reviews and information about what I should spend my pay cheque on each fortnight
I am reading my 17th translated book of the year at present. Before the past couple of years I simply did not read translated fiction. I barely even knew it existed really but so far this year I’ve read (in reading order):
- Asa Larsson’s The Black Path (from Swedish)
- Mehmet Murat Somer’s The Prophet Murders (from Turkish)
- Christian Jungersen’s The Exception (Danish)
- Deon Meyer Dead at Daybreak (from Afrikaans)
- Luis Miguel Rocha’s The Last Pope (from Portuguese)
- **Arnaldur Indridason’s Hypothermia (from Icelandic)
- Lief Davidson’s The Serbian Dane (from Danish)
- Claudia Pineiro’s Thursday Night Widows (from Spanish set in Argentina)
- Michele Giuttari’s A Death in Tuscany (from Italian)
- Hakan Nesser’s The Mind’s Eye (from Swedish)
- Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s The Uncomfortable Dead (from Spanish, set in Mexico)
- **Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room (from Swedish)
- **Tonino Benacquista’s Badfellas (from French)
- **Andrea Camilleri’s August Heat (from Italian)
- Teresa Solana’s A Not So Perfect Crime (from Spanish, set in Spain)
- **Deon Meyer Thirteen Hours (from Afrikaans)
Before you think I’m being all lefty intellectual in rating ‘foreign’ stuff above English works I should point out that the above list contains my equally highest rated books of the year as well as by far the worst book I have read this century and everything in between. But being able to read from a much wider range of settings and voices than just the English-writing ones has enriched my reading life, even including the odd dud (it’s The Last Pope in case you’re wondering).
I have another couple of dozen translated titles teetering on mount TBR and that’s without starting to think about the books eligible for next year’s International Dagger award. I wonder what treats I have ahead of me.