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Saturday, October 25, 2008
Literature

The 'Asian Booker' Shortlist 2008

The winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize (nicknamed the 'Asian Booker') will be announced on November 13, 2008. The Prize was established in 2006 to bring greater worldwide attention to Asian writing and authors. The Prize is open for unpublished works in English, as well as for translations. It is jointly administered by representatives of the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is sponsored by Man Group plc, a leading global financial services firm based in London.

The inaugural prize was awarded in November 2007 to Wolf Totem by Chinese author Jiang Rong, and published in English to great acclaim in early 2008. Several short- and longlisted works of the 2007 Prize have also been published.

Out of the 21 names on the 2008 Prize Longlist, the following five made the shortlist:

Kavery Nambisan, (India): The StoryTthat Must Not be Told

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi (India): Lost Flamingoes of Bombay

Miguel Syjuco (Philippines): Ilustrado

Yu Hua, (China): Brothers

Alfred A. Yuson (Philippines): The Music Child

The winner will receive USD 10,000 and can look forward to publication and wider recognition in the English-reading world. There is additionally a USD 3,000 award for the translator (if any).

Adrienne Clarkson, chair of the panel of judges, said: “All the books breathe with a vibrant sense of what the Asian world is today modern, yet connected to tradition, aware of change but saturated with the past. I really had the sense that I could feel the living vibrant worlds these novels describe.” Pankaj Mishra, another on the three-judge panel, noted that “Reading the shortlisted books, I was struck, above all, by their passionate engagement with contemporary realities in India, China and Philippines. They are primarily concerned, as literary novels must be, with the fate of the individual, but they do not exclude or reduce to a mere backdrop the tumultuous changes in Asian societies. By reckoning with these massive social and political dislocations, they recreate the vitality and urgency of the European novel in the 19th century and Latin American Literature in the 20th. I came away from my reading of the longlisted books thinking that Asia may increasingly provide, to the world's literature as well as to its political economy, the all-important stimulus.”

With the 'English' Booker having gone to Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, if one of the two shortlisted Indian writers wins the 'Asian' Booker, India will have then made a clean sweep of the Bookers this year.

Additional information on the website:
www.manasianliteraryprize.org

Compiled from press releases sent to the Literature Page, The Daily Star.

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