Friday, March 12, 2010

Samoan Poet Wins Regional Commonwealth Prize

Congrats to Samoan  poet and novelist Albert Wendt for winning the Best Novel Award the South East Asia and Pacific region for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. His epic novel-in-verse The Adventures of Vela is described in The Sydney Morning Herald as :
... "an exhilarating read'' that blends traditional storytelling and song with contemporary rock music and hip-hop.
The award for best first novel for the region went to Australian Glenda Guest for Siddon Rock.

These are the regional shortlists in their entirety :

Best Book shortlist:
  • Summertime by J.M Coetzee (Australia)
  • A Good Land by Nada Awar Jarrar (Australia)
  • The Adventures of Vela by Albert Wendt (Samoa)
  • Singularity by Charlotte Grimshaw (New Zealand)
  • The People's Train by Thomas Keneally (Australia)
  • Parrot and Oliver in America by Peter Carey (Australia)
(Perhaps the only Malaysian book that could have been in the running for this prize this time was Tash Aw's Map of the Invisible World, and it is very sad not to see it up there.)

Best First Book shortlist :
  • The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed (Australia)
  • After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld (Australia)
  • Look Who's Morphing by Tom Cho (Australia)
  • Document Z by Andrew Croome (Australia)
  • Come Inside by Glenys Osborne (Australia)
  • Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest (Australia)
 (So it really wasn't a surprise that an Australian won!)

The regional shortlists for the Commonwealth Writers prize were announced a few days back, and you can see them in their entirety here.

We may not have had a Malaysian on the shortlist, but we did have one on the panel of judges.  Congrats too the Kee Thuan Chye!

The overall winner will be announced next month.


Amir Muhammad said...

I love Tom Cho's book!

Stefania said...

I've read a couple of short stories by Albert Wendt and I must say they were really good!

Kee Thuan Chye said...

I wouldn't say it's sad that Tash Aw's book didn't make the shortlist. It was one of the most irritating books I read in the competition. On the whole very contrived, esp plot and characters. An American female protagonist who appears like a Hollywood character. Johan's story leads nowhere and the KL scenes are reminiscent of Drama Minggu Ini. I could point out more negatives. Looks like it's been written with film rights in mind.

bibliobibuli said...

True - as a judge you have to look for the best books.