The excitement is mounting. Only two days to go. The German-speaking world's premiere competition for emerging writers, known as the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, is on our doorstep. It takes place in Klagenfurt, Austria, but you can follow its progress online and on TV. Basically, 14 writers get to read unpublished texts and a group of critics rips them to pieces live. Then the jury argue amongst themselves over who was the least bad - bearing in mind that each of the critics chose two of the texts themselves. The winner gets €25,000 and a pat on the head, then they have another argument about who was the second least bad, etc. etc.
I mentioned a while ago that I was translating half of the entries. And I even managed to keep schtumm about who's in the running, despite being in possession of top-secret knowledge. What I haven't managed is to contain my envy over anyone who's going along to watch the fun live. I even had to cancel my membership of a certain Facebook group because it was so frustrating. I kind of don't want to know what all the literary types will be doing while they're there - swimming in lakes and playing football and lounging around in deck chairs printed with Ingeborg Bachmann quotes and generally enjoying themselves while we mere mortals have work and family commitments and have to... You get the picture, right?
But I shall be watching from afar. As will the good people of Lesemaschine, who will be posting comments on the readings as they happen. I'm not sure I'll manage that, what with the work and family commitments and having to... But I do have the almost unique advantage of having read all the texts in advance, and I shall try and share my insights and impressions as and when time allows.
And should my work and family commitments permit, next year I'm really going to try and go and bask in the literary limelight and sit there with my laptop and my sunglasses and share my impressions in real time. And maybe some of the other translators involved might be able to come and we could sit there looking smug because we know exactly what's coming. Wouldn't that be fun?
By the way, if you want to get into the true spirit of things, you can vote for your favourite somewhere on the website. I just can't work out where yet.