HONG KONG: Pakistani writer Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s book Between Clay and Dust, a debut novel and a work by a Nobel laureate were among five books shortlisted for Asia’s most prestigious literary prize on Wednesday, with entries across the region from Turkey to Japan.
The shortlist for the $30,000 Man Asian Literary Prize was drawn from a longlist of 15 published works, after 108 entries were submitted to a panel of judges led by literary critic and journalist Maya Jaggi.
Professor David Parker, executive director of the Asian Literary Prize, the organising body of the award, hailed what he called a “remarkable” selection of books that bring together regional publishers with larger international houses.
“Several of these writers have been celebrated in their own countries and recognised internationally, but never before have we viewed them collectively as Asian writers,” said Parker.
Set in an unnamed Pakistani city after the partition of India, Between Clay and Dust was described by Prize judges as having “mythic resonance” in following a former champion wrestler and his younger brother.
Born in 1968 in Hyderabad, Farooqi is an author, novelist and translator who divides his time between Toronto and Karachi and has published both adult and children’s fiction.
Silent House, an early work from Turkish writer and 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Orhan Pamuk, made the list after appearing in English for the first time.
Turkey and Iran are among the 35 countries eligible for the prize, which is looking for a new sponsor with London-based Man Group ending its funding for the Asian prize after this edition of the event.
Other works include two books that were shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which was won by record-breaking British author Hilary Mantel for Bring up the Bodies in October.
Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis is his debut novel, a sprawling exploration of opium addiction and its impact on Old Bombay described by Jaggi as “a stylistic tour de force with great originality”.
The Garden of Evening Mists by Malaysia’s Tan Twan Eng was also shortlisted for the Booker prize and follows a young law graduate who discovers the only Japanese garden in Malaya and its secretive owner and creator.
Another text appearing in translation is The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami, which traces the relationship between an office worker nearing 40 and her former literature teacher.
The winner of the prize will be announced on March 14. Winning translators are awarded $5,000.
The Man Asian Literary Prize began in 2007 and is given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English.
The 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize was awarded to South Korean author Kyung-Sook Shin for her novel Please Look After Mom, a story about a family’s guilty soul-searching after the disappearance of their elderly mother that has gone on to sell more than two million copies.
The 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize shortlist:
– Between Clay and Dust – Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)
– The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)
– Silent House – Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
– The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)
– Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil (India)