Prize and Prize-winner by Dysart
Posted by shirleycurran on 18 May 2012
A 14×14 grid, rather a lot of clues and what looked, at first, like a carte blanche until we noticed the bars, one of those deceptively short preambles that can bode ill! There was some numpty trepidation. However, we put in putative clue numbers that fitted perfectly well and wondered. ‘The completed grid … must include one clue number only’. We are going to be hunting for titles of four works by a foreign author (as they are ‘translated titles’) so we can dismiss notions about 39 Steps and the like. (Well, Buchan was Scottish but even grumbly Listener solvers wouldn’t fuss about his title and require it to be translated into home-counties English - would they?)
So we solve steadily and with considerable enjoyment, wondering from time to time: ‘The star entertainer in the line-up could tell you how to get this fruit (5)’ ANANA was the only fruit that fitted our ANAN? but I still don’t understand the clue. I had to go to the Internet to understand the irony of ‘Village of Wise Men became a village half-abandoned (6)’ GOT + HAM(let) since the BRB seemed to say that GOTHAM was quite the opposite of a village of wise men. ‘Memo: “A person with no regular income is out of the question!” (4)’ NOTE was the obvious answer but, again, it took me a while to grasp that such a person was rated E in BRB, thus NOT E rather subtly conveyed the solution.
Lovely clues, the rest of them! Dysart, of course, flourishing even more than the usual quantity of Listener compiler bubbly, Armagnac, wild feasting, cups and casks of punch. With glee, we spotted Franz Kafka emerging, appropriately placed in the centre of a row and, after under a couple of hours of solving, crowed with delight. We should have known better! Isn’t Dysart known for this kind of double-crossing?
A full grid, a foreign author identified, and, of course, we all know he was born in Prague and wrote ‘The Trial‘, ‘The Castle‘ and ‘Metamorphosis‘. Time for a glass of some Listener concoction or another and a break for supper.
All through dinner, that grid sat between the rice and the green Thai curried chicken and taunted us. (Yes, I have to admit, these things have invaded our Friday evening schedule and sit there malevolently.) PRAGUE simply wasn’t there even though I carefully read up and down rows, columns and diagonals … HAH! Of course, the rest is history. Didn’t I feel silly when HARUKI MURAKAMI appeared!
KYOTO of course, followed. I didn’t know that, but do know that he won the Kafka Prize, so, of course, the title now made sense. All that remained was to find four titles cryptically represented in the grid. I enjoyed After Dark but, although two friends have recommended it, felt that 1Q84, with more than 900 pages, was mildly threatening. Still, it looked promising as far as numbers went – but NO!
I am sure I am not alone in having found KAFKA on (the) SHORE first, then, of course, deleting JUMBO (which had appeared during my scanning of the diagonals) since an elephant had to vanish (The Elephant Vanishes). Dance Dance Dance seemed a likely candidate for another novel and STEPS appeared, deceptively in 28d (Feelings of offence reflected in teacher’s errors (8) PETS rev in MISS). Of course, when the final title appeared, I still needed a number, and thus, had to transfer my vote to 3 REELS,producing the 3. What a complicated procedure we had gone to just to get that number!
There weren’t many two-word novels left in the Internet list, and, opting for Norwegian Wood meant that I had to examine all the six-letter rectangles around the letter N. GINGKO couldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination fit the bill, but, of course, NOR OAK did.
All great fun with a lovely twist (at least for silly numpties) and a fine end-game. Thank you, Dysart!