Wednesday, August 04, 2010

DEDUCTIONS FROM THE CWA INTERNATIONAL DAGGER



This year the CWA judges did an excellent job in picking Johan Theorin's The Darkest Room as the winner of the International Dagger. Obviously a lot of thought had gone into the make up of the short list.
The previous year's list had been made up of 5 Nordic books, and the one French winner. Perhaps in 2010 the judges wanted both a more varied type, and wider geographical spread from the shortlisted novels.
This may be the reason that two such strong contenders as The Man from Beijing [Henning Mankell] and The Snowman [Jo Nesbo] were not included.

Twenty Nine books have been nominated for the International Dagger since its inception in 2006. The chart on the left shows the original languages of the books.
Interestingly 18 of the 29 were written in French or Swedish. Yasmina Khadra, who has been nominated twice [2006, 2007] is an Algerian, but lives in France and writes in French. So one could regard Deon Meyer's Thirteen Hours written in Afrikaans, and translated by K.L. Seegers, as the only fully non-European book among the twenty nine.

Interestingly although this year Johan Theorin was the first man to win the award no male translator has ever won. Marlaine Delargy was Theorin's translator, Ros Schwartz and Amanda Hopkinson won in 2008, and Sian Reynolds has won three times.
Translator Steven Murray [aka Reg Keeland] has been nominated five times, but has failed to win so far.

Thanks to the hard work of Karen Meek of Euro Crime, who listed the translated novels due to be published during next year's eligibility period [see right hand chart] we can see that publishers are becoming less adventurous.
If Swedish books are popular they are the ones that will get published, and out of 43 books eligible for the 2011 International Dagger, as of 24 July, ten are from Sweden.
Europe dominates the field with only 5 from the rest of the world. Four if you count Turkey as inside Europe.
If excellent books from Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East are overlooked because of the "discovery" of Swedish crime fiction it would be a very sad day for crime fiction aficionados.

4 Comments:

Blogger Margot Kinberg said...

Norman - Very thoughtful and interesting post! I like the charts, too. I find it interesting (and, admittedly, sad) that publishers aren't as willing to take a risk with books from different parts of the world as they were. Like you, I believe a lot of excellent crime fiction is not getting the notice it deserves. Not that I have a problem with Swedish (or other Scandinavian) crime fiction, but I do like it when lesser-known, but talented writers from "non-powerhouse" countries also get some notice.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Bernadette in Australia said...

What an excellent post and, of course, I adore your pie charts. It is so sad that publishers, like Hollywood producers, seem so intent on offering the same product over and over again rather than understanding that we readers will take a look at anything as long as the quality is there.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous chelsea said...

Great pie charts! Agree that I wish that publishers, booksellers, promoters would branch out and look at the world of mystery writers, take risks, be adventurous.

We readers only benefit.

And when one thinks of the talented writers all over the world who struggle so hard to get a book published and may not be able to do that. And we, the readers are losing out on potentially wonderful books.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot, Bernadette and Chelsea I am pleased you liked those pie charts.
I was experimenting with Microsoft Excel and rediscovered the ability to produce them.

Publishers and film producers are there to make money and unfortunately a poor Patricia Cornwell/Dan Brown/James Paterson book will outsell a brilliant innovative book by an unknown talented author.
I think the Stieg Larsson books deserve their success, but I do find it ridiculous that they hope to use Larsson's coat tails to sell other talented authors who have a unique style very different to Larsson.

1:19 AM  

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