... a fictional account of a young Filipino caught within a notorious scandal spanning over the Philippine historyThe award judges said about the novel that it :
... seems to us to possess formal ambition, linguistic inventiveness and sociopolitical insight in the most satisfying measure. Brilliantly conceived, and stylishly executed, it covers a large and tumultuous historical period with seemingly effortless skill. It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour.Syuco is interviewed about his win on The Ampersand blog.
The Literary Saloon has some interesting comments about the prize :
While we support the general idea behind this prize -- to provide a leg up for Asian authors (well, authors from those parts of Asia they deign to consider ...) -- we have to wonder once again about the winner. Ilustrado actually sounds like a fun book and we look forward to seeing it in print -- as the Crispin Salvador Wikipedia-page suggests, Syjuco is onto something -- but this is also an author who has been through the Columbia University MFA programme, and who lives in Montreal. We're all for the breaking down of literary borders, bla bla bla, but can't help but notice how many of the authors sold to us as of X nationality live in country Y -- which, something like eight times out of ten, turns out to be the US or UK (and the ninth time out of ten, as here: Canada); nine times out of ten they also conveniently write in English. ... We understand that this is the way the industry works, and that writers obviously choose the easiest route to publishing acceptance -- obviously you increase your chances of getting any sort of publishing deal if you go through the US MFA-mill rather than, say, staying in Manila and write in Tagalog ... -- but we'd love to see some more fostering of local literary scenes, and not just that transnational one.The MFA /MA in Creative Writing route seems to me an eminently sensible one for anyone who takes their writing seriously (and can afford it!) - but I too would love to see unpublished writers and so far agentless authors from within Asia get their big break.
If you have a manuscript, why not take the chance and send it in for next year's prize?
Richard Lea on the Guardian blog decides it's too early for cynicism.