Meet our #IFFP reading groups

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We’re really excited to announce the launch of our Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Readers Project, being run in partnership with "Booktrust ": and Free Word. Over 20 reading groups and book clubs from across the country will be shadowing this year’s Prize – reading, debating, blogging about and reviewing the shortlisted titles and coming together at Free Word for a Readers’ Day in May.

We’ll be setting up a dedicated Independent Foreign Fiction Prize page very soon, where you’ll be able to see how the groups are getting on and also get resources for your group or club to become involved with this Prize. In the meantime, here’s a taster of some of the groups who are involved in the Project:

Ashcroft Reading Group

The Ashcroft Reading Group comprises 10 female readers ranging from their forties to eighties, all with a love of exploring and sharing books. We read widely but mainly contemporary fiction. The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shadowing offers us the opportunity to stretch our reading and meet with fellow readers at the finale event. The project will help us feel part of a reading community.

Punjabi Ladies Group

The Punjabi Ladies Book Club was first set up six years ago by like minded professional ladies who were finding it difficult to find time to read books, an activity which they had very much enjoyed in their earlier lives. The group started off with 5-6 members and has since grown from strength to strength with the current number on the register being twenty; 10-12 active members attend most meetings.

The group has read approximately fifty books ranging from autobiographies, fiction, thrillers, old classics and novels. We have very lively discussions of the book as well as the issues around the subject at meetings held every 6-8 weeks. We certainly read a lot of eastern writers and support local writers. Recently we had a very inspiring evening when Steven Dunne from Derby participated in our discussion of his book Deity. We often attend events at local libraries when writers are invited to talk about their books (e.g. Jaswinder Sanghera). The bicentenary of Charles Dickens was celebrated by reading Great Expectations, attending discussion of his others books in local libraries and one of the leading local librarian attended our discussion evening. The group read a couple of books by DH Lawrence followed by a visit to his exhibition in Nottingham as well as his museum in Eastwood.

Overall the group is highly motivated, enthusiastic, critical of what they read, frank about their individual opinions and all in all enjoy doing literary activities together.

Hepworth Book Group

Our group was formed in May 2009 and there are seven of us, female and male : Deborah, Dot, Jane, Joyce, Kate, Keith and Rachael. The group is supported by Kirklees Library Services and each month we borrow from them seven copies of a book from their list of over 750 titles. We meet on the last Wednesday of the month, usually in the village pub.

We read a wide range of literature; literary fiction, crime fiction, translated fiction, some popular fiction, short stories, biographies, autobiographies and other non-fiction. We take it in turns to select the upcoming title and at the next meeting we discuss the book, award a score (out of 6) and keep a written record of our discussion. In the past year we have developed the routine that each of us also submits a written report to help with the record keeping.

Over the past four years we have read 37 books and have all discovered and enjoyed works that we wouldn’t have personally selected. There’ve been many successful and happy discoveries but we’ve had a few flops too.

Every so often we change the pattern of selection. For example, instead of us all reading the same book, we each select one from a set of wrapped and unidentified books donated anonymously, one by each of us. At the subsequent discussion meeting we report and rate the books as usual but also try to guess who the donor was. Only after all the works have been considered do we reveal who the donors have been. Great fun!

The group is excited to be involved in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and we’re looking forward to reading and reviewing contemporary novels from authors, cultures and countries that we may not be familiar with.

Another benefit will be the opportunity to meet other book groups at the Readers’ Day on 18th May in London where we can chat about the shortlisted novels, the shadowing process and share ideas about being in a book group.

It will also be an interesting experience to organise our thoughts about the novels into a written report that other book groups and the Prize judges may read.

BFCM & UJima Radio Bristol Reading Group

We’re very excited to be part of this years Foreign Fiction Prize shadowing. We’re quite a varied group including younger and older readers, so these books will challenge us to read something different. Bcfm and Ujima radio are both community stations and made up of a wide variety of volunteers, so for me, Heather, it will be good to get a bit of background on some of the countries in our family that I don’t know much about. We also hope to reach into the community and get more people into reading. I shall be reviewing the books I read for Bcfm’s The Review Show.

Pontadarwe Library

The Group was started in October 2009 and is held in Pontardawe Library once a month. The group select from a booklet of reading sets what titles they would like to read and these sets are updated every year. We have between 12-15 group members, not everyone can attend each meeting and we’re always open to new members. We have a lively discussion on our selected book and are looking forward reading the selected books for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Birmingham Mobile Reading Group

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Birmingham Libraries Mobile Library Reading group is made up from users of the Mobile Library at various locations throughout the city. The Group enjoy reading a wide variety of books, and between them, the Group have a very broad reading spectrum.

When the opportunity arose to shadow the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Mobile Reading Group wanted to get involved as they thought it was too good to miss. The chance to read, review and shadow authors and of course get more of an insight to the translators was unmissable.

It will be good for the Group to have an opportunity to get involved with something not usually on offer, with the added bonus of a chance to highlight libraries and the importance they still hold in the Community.” Nicky Precious who runs the Mobile Reading Group.

Found in Translation

My name is Cecylia and I coordinate the Found in Translation book group at McDonald Road library. We’re very excited about shadowing the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. We’ve always looked for book ideas from the longlist and shortlist of the Prize so we’re really looking forward to taking part in it this year.

I came up with the idea of this book group about two years ago. Originally it was a Polish-Scottish book group and we were only reading Polish literature translated into English but we decided to expand and read all European literature translated into English. Our members come from different parts of Europe- the Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Scotland.

The books we’ve recently discussed are: The Appointment by Herta Muller, Dark Matter by Juli Zeh, New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani and This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun.

Golden Triangle Girls WI Book Group

We are a book group made up of members of the Golden Triangle Girls WI in Norwich. There are around 12 of us who regularly attend the book group, although our numbers continue to grow, and we’re all women of mixed ages. We’re avid readers, and although we’re a relatively new group (we only formed in Autumn last year), we’re enjoying reading a range of modern classics and historical books and discussing them together… down the pub! We’re really excited to be shadowing the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013, and reading through the shortlist. Our book discussions are lively, and our girls are not afraid to say how they feel about books, so we’re looking forward to a spirited discussion.

Whistable Library Reading Group

Whistable library reading groupThe group started in March 2009. There are two men and six women including two ladies from Texas. Only three of us are from the original group but eight of us have been together for some time. We discuss two books a month – one so-called ‘A’ book, more serious and likely to provoke discussion, and one ‘B’ book (lighter and or/shorter). We’ve read a number of translated works – Murakami and Scandinavian crime writers. What we hope to get from this project is a better understanding of the role and importance of the translator.

Sharon Computacenter Reading Group

We started our reading group almost one year ago when one of our team was selected as a giver for World Book Night. On bringing the books into the office, we discovered a number of us were avid readers, and so the group was born.

We mostly work in HR, and due to the large amount of travelling many of us undertake for work, our numbers tend to fluctuate from meeting to meeting. We have a ‘hardcore’ group of about 6 of us plus anyone else who happens to be around on the day. This travelling, however, does give us plenty of reading time at airports and on trains!
Since starting the group we’ve read a wide variety of books ranging from Wolf Hall to War Horse via some vintage Daphne du Maurier. We’ve got book swapping and recommended reads buzzing round the office – we all need time off just to catch up on everything we’d like to read.

We’re excited about taking part in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize because we’re looking forward to reading some new authors and sampling new cultures. So far in our reading group we’ve pretty much only read British fiction. This has happened purely by chance, so we’re intrigued by what books we may get to read. Participation in the Prize will give us an opportunity to read books we may not have come across before or may not have chosen to read. All very exciting!

About the Prize

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The Independent Foreign Prize honours the best work of fiction by a living author, which has been translated into English from any other language and published in the United Kingdom. Uniquely, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize gives the winning author and translator equal status: each receives £5,000.

To see the books on this year’s longlist go here. The shortlist is announced on 11 April and the winner on 20 May.

Get involved

Meet more of our IFFP reading groups.

Watch out for our Prize page – coming very soon – where you’ll be able to get resources and post your own reviews of the shortlisted titles.

Follow the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #IFFP


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