Egyptian author, academic among those who will judge submissions
HONG KONG: Asian literature by authors living in the region and writing in their own languages is finally being recognized with a prize of international standing.
The Man Asian Literary Prize was launched in Hong Kong Tuesday with the aim, organizers said, of pushing Asian authors into the international mainstream. The annual prize, worth $10,000 and sponsored by Man Investments, will be awarded for the first time in late 2007.
Man also sponsors the annual Booker prize for authors already in print and in English only, and the Man International prize which honors an author s body of work in any language.
This year s Booker prize was awarded last week to Kiran Desai, daughter of novelist and three-time Booker nominee Anita Desai, for The Inheritance of Loss .
The Asian prize differed from the two established competitions in that writers may submit work in the original language or in translation, said Robb Corrigan, Man s head of communications.
By recognizing work not already published in English, the prize provided writers in Asia with the opportunity to find worldwide recognition, he said.
There is a specific goal to bring Asian voices to the global stage, he said.
According to Peter Gordon, director on the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, the prize comes at a time in the region when demand for books is outstripping demand for wealth .
The new prize, he said, would be open to writers in 24 Asian countries which fell into a triangle defined by Japan, Indonesia and Afghanistan .
Australia and New Zealand were not included, and Hong Kong and Macau are listed separately from China.
While Indian writers had long enjoyed a global profile because many wrote in English, Corrigan said the new prize would provide Chinese writers with a voice they did not currently have.
The same is true for all the languages of Asia, he said.
The Man Booker prize has been a fantastic voice for highlighting quality literature and the winner and short-listed books have their sales shoot through the roof, Corrigan said.
The literary voice that might not be well heard becomes well heard because of the prize, so it is a huge literary event that has brought literature to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn t have focused on it.
So that is what we hope to do with Asian writers, by giving them an opportunity to be published in English and reach a wider audience, he said.
Submissions will be judged by Egyptian author and academic Andre Aciman, Hong Kong-born Adrienne Clarkson, former governor general of Canada, and Nicholas Jose, an Australian author, academic and former diplomat.