Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Toast To Mr. Wong

How would you like to spend a year, all expenses paid, at the University of East Anglia doing the M.A. in Creative Writing? The only catch is that you need to be working on a novel about South East Asia.
The David TK Wong Fellowship is a unique and generous annual award - £25,000 to enable a fiction writer who wants to write in English about the Far East to spend a year in the UK, at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

The Fellowship is named for its sponsor Mr. David Wong, a retired Hong Kong businessman, who has also been a teacher, journalist and senior civil servant, and is a writer of short stories himself.

The shortlisted entries will be judged by a distinguished international panel, and since there will be no interviews, candidates will be judged entirely on the quality and promise of their writing, and the project they describe. There is no age limit, and no means test of any kind.
Yes, I did a double take when I spotted this information posted up on the British Council's Animating Literature website. Did our friend, already there and bravely self-financed know about this? Did Tash?

The 2004 fellow was Thai/American writer Rattawut Lapcharoensap who's doing pretty well for himself.

Well, now I've told you just go for it! And if you're thinking to yourself, I don't need to learn to be a better writer, I say the course is not so much about learning to write as about making the right contacts and getting your foot in the door.

As if that news is not enough, here's something else that should interest you.

International PEN is delighted to announce a new prize to promote literary excellence in the form of the short story and to further the awareness of and support for the ideals of PEN worldwide. Unpublished stories, written in English, are welcome from writers world-wide but stories must incorporate one or more of International PEN's ideals as set out in its Charter. Since the prize also hopes to help raise funds for individual centres, entries should not be sent direct to International PEN but should be submitted via the entrant's local PEN Centre.

The first prize is £7,500.
Further details (and how can you resist this?) here.


Kak Teh said...

really? really? now I am doing a double take! will read on.

Chet said...

They seem to have revised the requirements for the £25,000 David T K Wong Fellowship. I remember it used to be open only to writers from the Far East, now the requirement says "a fiction writer who wants to write in English about the Far East". I can't remember if the original requirement also included "writing about the Far East".

bibliobibuli said...

How did you discover this earlier, Chet?

Kak Teh - you go for it, girl. You have your subject.

Chet said...

UEA EAS Alumni.

I remember telling you about this before.

Zafar Anjum said...

Hi Sharon! In fact, I had applied for it last year. Naturally, got rejected. There must be a slew of highly talented writers applying for this fellowship. There is an application fee also, some thirty pounds or something like that. Imagine 1000 people applying for it every year! So many people from Asia are doing MFA courses in US/UK and also so many Western MFAs/Writers are attracted to write on themes Asian. The scope of candidates applying naturally becomes wide.

I guess Fellowships like this are more open to the MFAs from American and British universities. Just go and study the profiles of the past winners. People who have been supported by this fellowship are either already well-published or from some MFA course. Talent is of course a given. There is plenty around. But how many names, of these past fellows, have you heard except that of the now-famous Thai short story writer?

It is not a case of sour grapes. I am not insinuating anything against anyone or any organization, but these are my humble observations. I may, of course, be completely wrong. What do you think about it?

bibliobibuli said...

Chet - I am sincerely sorry if theis did not sink in when you told me about it before ... it all sounds so remarkable

zafar - many thanks for bringing us down to earth again and for opening my eyes ... yes if 1000 folks pay 30GBP each that makes .... that makes ... a lot more than the prize is worth! No, I had only heard of the Thai writer and none of the others ... And you could well be right about them being established writers already ...

What do I think? Hey, what do I know? I think this is an award worth trying for because if you never ask the Universe for nothing you get even less.

Maybe we just need more scholarships for local writers? I'll put it on my Christmas list.

Anonymous said...

hey guys, i am a fellow malaysian living in the US. a couple of days ago i received a letter saying i'm on the shortlist for the tk wong fellowship. just wanted to let you guys know that i have no credentials - not one MA, published work or competition win. it is encouraging to know that the fellowship really gives emerging writers a chance! it gives me hope!