Thursday, May 25, 2006

Literary Act of Love

I think I've said it before, I was not aware of just how many literary prizes there are out there before I began this blog. And now here's another one - the Ondaatje Prize.

Named for Michael Ondaatje, the author of The English Patient?

I mean, how many Ondaatje's have you heard of? (I guess that if you're Sri Lankan, your answer would be different to mine.)

Actually, the prize is named after Christopher Ondaatje a British millionaire philanthropist. Oh yes, and Michael's brother. Good for him supporting literature. Though he apparently made his money in publishing, so I guess it's fitting.

I vow, and you guys can be my witness, that if I ever find myself with a fortune to bequeath, I'll set up a literary prize with it. (Though the bulk would have to go to my cats to keep them in the luxury they are accustomed to.)

Back to the £10,000 prize though, now in it's third year. Awarded annually "to a book of the highest literary merit, fiction, non-fiction or poetry, best evoking the spirit of a place", this year's winner is James Meek's The People's Act of Love, a novel set in Siberia in 1919, (during the Russian Civil War). The novel concerns a renegade Czech army unit stranded in a community dominated by an obscure religious sect. You may remember that it was also longlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize.

Check out the rest of the shortlist here.


Sharanya Manivannan said...

Christopher O. has also written a book, if I'm not mistaken.

And there's a Griffin Foundation for Poetry, named after Michael's son.

The Ondaatje name is so important it even has its own Wiki page!

Lydia Teh said...

The Sharon Bakar award for Malaysian writers... you don't have to be wealthy to confer such an award but riches help, of course.

lil ms d said...

Wow. So many prizes! Now if only one of our millionaires could do the same but I guess they don't read books except for Annual Reports etc?

The Sharon Bakar Prize sounds great!

Ron said...

I'm with you, Sharon. If I am ever 'rolling in it', I'm going to set up a literature prize too. Mine, which will include publication as well as a monetary award, will be for unpublished novelists who are over 50 years of age.

Ron said...

Well, thanks Sharon, you just cost me more money, didn't you! :-) I just HAD to go and order The People's Act of Love after learning about it on Bibliobibuli.

Seriously, it looks really good and I can't wait for it to arrive. Thanks for the 'heads-up' on it.

Jordan said...

Thanks for setting me straight, because I so thought it was named after the author of TEP. That could have been embarrassing.

bibliobibuli said...

sharanya - thanks for filling me in even further

lydia, ms d - make that the bibliobiuli award

ron - for unpublished writers over 50? nice one!

i also have to buy it - i snapped up most of the booker longlist as soon as it reached the shops here but still haven't got this or the rushdie or the coetzee

jordan - welcome! i guess neither of us feel so ignorant now and we can show off our new knowledge at literary cocktail parties