Man Asian longlist announced!

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We were there last year and now we’re the first to release the longlist for the Man Asian Literary Prize once again! Following Korean author Kyung-sook Shin’s victory in the prize last year, this year’s list looks even better and it will be a massive battle over the coming weeks as the judges whittle down the list to see who’s the best Asian writer for 2012.

The longlist was announced at 6pm on December 4 in Hong Kong – and we were there to get all the goss. There are 15 books which have made the list, representing nine countries, two Man Booker Prize authors and one Nobel laureate. Sadly there’s no Hong Kong author – but India’s Jeet Thayil was educated here, so that’ll do us. However, the list shows just how Asian novels have been developing over the past few years, with some outstanding reads making it.

A record number of 108 published novels were submitted for Asia’s most prestigious literary prize with the longlisted books spread right across Asia, from Turkey to Japan. Migration of rural Chinese workers to Shenzhen, the difficult transition of Bombay to Mumbai, the far-reaching consequences of Mao’s Cultural Revolution as well as struggles with identity and assimilation in the shadow of the Vietnam War, all feature in the longlist which includes three debut novelists and seven books appearing in English translation.

The longlisted novels are:
- Goat Days – Benyamin (India)
- Between Clay and Dust – Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)
- Another Country – Anjali Joseph (India)
- The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)
- Thinner Than Skin – Uzma Aslam Khan (Pakistan)
- Ru – Kim Thúy (Vietnam/Canada*)
- Black Flower – Young-Ha Kim (South Korea)
- Island of a Thousand Mirrors – Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)
- Silent House – Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
- Honour – Elif Shafak (Turkey)
- Northern Girls – Sheng Keyi (China)
- The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)
- The Road To Urbino – Roma Tearne (Sri Lanka/UK*)
- Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil (India)
- The Bathing Women – Tie Ning (China)

*These writers are eligible under the prize’s new rule governing cases in which writers have lost their Asian nationality through state action.

Award-winning literary critic, journalist and chairman of the judging panel, Maya Jaggi, says: “The far-ranging stories on our longlist draw the reader into some beautiful and some gruelling landscapes: from the glaciers of northern Pakistan to the unforgiving Saudi desert; from an affluent Istanbul seaside resort to a Bombay opium den – and further afield to Montreal and Mexico. I am delighted to see that range reflected in the breadth of original languages on our list, with novels translated from Chinese, Japanese and Korean, as well as Turkish, French and Malayalam.”

Joining Maya Jaggi as prize judges for 2012 are award-winning Vietnamese-American novelist Monique Truong and novelist Vikram Chandra, most notably winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. The shortlist of five or six titles will be announced on January 9,, 2013. The winner, who will receive US$30,000, will be announced on March 14, 2013, at a black tie prize dinner in Hong Kong, the home of the prize.

Following the announcement of the 2012 winner in March, the current sponsor Man Group will relinquish its title sponsorship. As of April, a new title sponsor will sponsor the Asian Literary Prize. Negotiations with interested sponsors are ongoing, say the organisers. A spokesman for the prize says: “We were overwhelmed with the incredible response from readers, writers, publishers and fans of the prize from around the world when we announced the sponsorship news in October. We have been approached by several potential sponsors and are in early negotiations. No announcement regarding the future sponsorship of the prize will be made until April 2013.”

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