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.