Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Refugee Baby to Award-Winning Author

Vietnamese-Australian author Nam Le has won the international Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers for his first collection of short stories. The award, worth £60,000 recognises the best young writer in the English-speaking world and ensures that the inspirational nature of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas' writing will live on.

Le arrived Australia as a baby with his refugee parents . He grew up in Melbourne and studied law at Melbourne University. At 25 he joined the famous Iowa Writers Workshop where he wrote the stories in The Boat. He now works in New York, where he is the fiction editor of the Harvard Review, and will take up the David T.K. Wong fellowship at the University of East Anglia next year to work on his second book.

The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Peter Florence, chairman of the judges, as saying of Le's work that it demonstrated :
... a rare brilliance that is breathtaking both in the scope of its subject matter and the quality of its writing. Nam tackles his own background and circumstances as well as that of others with a clear eye, focused intelligence and wonderful use of words.
While Ben Ball at Penguin Australia, commended the impressive shortlist for the prize, but remarked :
But Nam has another gear that takes him further into unexpected geographical or emotional territory. He has said that every sentence is an opportunity to lose a reader, so he can't let a semi-dud one by.
(I bolded that bit because I think that every writer who wants to suceed should engrave that on his/her heart!)

Here's Nam Le's website for The Boat, where you can read an extract and reviews, as well as more about the author.

Janet Tay reviewed the book some time back in Starmag. (The unedited version is here.) Eric blogged an email interview with the author here. Eric also wrote about the other shortlisted books.

Congrats to the author, and let's give a big cheer for the short story (which folks predicted was dying, not so long ago, but which just doesn't lie down and give up that easily!)

I've not yet read the book (I stared at it, it stared back at me in Kinokuniya when I was making tough choices) but hope to soon.

1 comment:

Yusuf said...

"every sentence is an opportunity to lose a reader, so he can't let a semi-dud one by." That is just so true, oh dear I don't think I'll ever finish another story!

Hope I didn't lose you............