Sadly, our Preeta didn't get the Best First Book Prize for the South East Asia and the South Pacific region - that went instead to New Zealand's Mo Zhi Hong (left) for Shanghai Shark :
... the story of young boy's rite of passage as he enters into the bustling, cosmopolitan street life of the contemporary Chinese cities of Dalian and Shanghai, under the tutelage of his uncle, a professional pickpocket.Mo was born in Singapore, but grew up in Taiwan, China, Canada, the US and New Zealand. he worked as a software developer in New York, and later as an English teacher in north-east China, before returning to New Zealand. He lives in Aukland.
You can hear an interview with him here.
The region's best novel prize went to Australian Christos Tsiolkas who won against some very stiff opposition. His novel The Slap :
... begins with a four-year-old child being slapped at a barbecue in Melbourne's northern suburbs by someone who is not a family member. The uproar that follows is seen from the points of view of eight distinctly drawn characters and puts family loyalty, friendships and social ethics into a fierce crucible.Jhumpa Lahiri won the Europe and South Asia Heat Best Book Award with Unaccustomed Earth, her collection of stories which has been sweeping all before it, and was praised by the judges for its :
...lyrical, meticulously crafted prose, with the moving and memorable treatment of the diasporic experience coupled with her significant achievement in extending the form of the short storyMohammed Hanif won in the first book category for his novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes :
... a darkly comic tour de force which takes as its starting point the plane crash which killed Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq. Praised for its "amazingly detailed and plausible portrayal of historical events", as well as its "great political insight and stylistic virtuosity" ...This is the first time a Pakistani has been a regional winner.
The overall winners of the Commonwealth Writers Prize will be announced in mid-May.