Not our favourite kind of set-up -- readers get to vote, and they get to do so as often as they like (and there's an incentive to vote for the book you think is likely to win, rather than the one you think is best, because voters who 'get it right' are also eligible for prizes ...), and the prize is limited to the ten bestselling titles (in fiction and non-fiction) at the local Popular stores. But at least that leads, for example, Elizabeth Tai to briefly describe what were the 10 bestselling fiction titles last year, in her Guide to the prizes, which gives us some idea of what's popular in Malaysia (and these are, after all, book you probably haven't seen at your local bookstore).But as Louise Adler notes in The Age (another piece I found via Saloon.com) :
Prizes that attract publicity inevitably also attract criticism ...But it can't be anything but good if word of local books and authors gets out into the wider world, and if Malaysian readers are encouraged to pick up the books. The award has also put a smile on the faces of the nominated authors I've met spoken to over the past few days, every single one of them saying that they aren't bothered if they win, and are just happy to have been recognised.
And talking of wider attention for our local publishing scene, Wena Poon's Lions in Winter (published here by MPH) is reviewed by Neel Chowdhury in Time magazine.