Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Australia-Asia Won by Malouf

This is a much overdue post (sorry!) on the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Prize which was won by David Malouf (left) for his collection The Complete Stories. It is really nice to see the short story in good health after dire prognostications were made of its demise, and this sounds a fine book.

The award is an important one as chief judge Nury Vittachi said at the prize dinner:
There's a massive change coming up and Asia will be the world's hot spot. The bulk of the world's consumers are here in the Asia-Pacific, and they're going to need books set here. Asia on its own can't climb on to the world contemporary literature stage easily and neither can Australia. Put the two together, and they're unbeatable. People are not recognising this. But this award does, so I do hope they continue it. ... You've got this fabulous market right here: there are four billion Asians, they're all obsessed by education and almost all of them studying English. So what do they do? They go out and buy English books.
Let's hope more Asian voices will find their way onto the longlist in future years ... including, if it isn't tempting fate to wish this, some of our own.


Yusuf Martin said...

I appreciate the sentiment, and hope and pray that he is right.


"So what do they do? They go out and buy English books."

This is not my experience of Malaysians in Malaysia. Several second-hand book shops have closed recently both in KL an in Ipoh, which seems to indicate that probably less people are going out and buying English book, and in fact books per se.

Argus Lou said...

I agree with Yusuf Martin. Most go out to buy self-help books and business management tomes.

Matt said...

I'm very surprised Malouf won this. His short stories are not the best being produced in Australia - that accolade in my mind belongs to Cate Kennedy ('Dark Roots'). In fact, the annual 'Best of Australian Short Stories' book is more worthwhile, in terms of gauging where Australian short fiction lies. I think Malouf was a safe bet as he's one of the grand old men of Aus fiction, a title he shares with Frank Moorhouse.

Anonymous said...

I'm also surprised that he won it for stories already published, a long time ago.

- Poppadumdum