Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Prize for Asian Writers!

Many thanks Jen for posting this link from the New York Times in the comments yesterday:
The investment house that sponsors the Booker Prize has begun a new award intended to recognize Asian authors living in the region and writing in their own language, Agence France-Presse reported. The prize, an annual award of $10,000 to be known as the Man Asian Literary Prize, was announced yesterday in Hong Kong and is to be given next autumn for the first time by Man Investments. Robb Corrigan, a spokesman for the company, said, 'There is a specific goal to bring Asian voices to the global stage.' Peter Gordon, director of the Hong Kong Literary Festival, which took part in the announcement, said the prize would be open to writers in 24 countries in a 'triangle defined by Japan, Indonesia and Afghanistan.'"
This is a great piece of news, tho' the area in question is pretty huge and incorporates established literary heavyweights India and Japan.

But probably the best thing about the prize is that it is open to those who write in a language other than English. Maybe this will provide a much needed boost for our local sasterawan. (Though they need capable translators.)

It's also interesting that Asian writers living overseas - and by extension perhaps, novels written primarily for a Western audience - are disqualified.

You can download more info about the prize from the Hong Kong Literary Festival website. There's also more about it on the Channel News Asia website


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to look in on your blog the other day. So if you don’t mind, here are my comments regarding the 95% fee of RM50.00.

In the course of business, my company has sponsored free events as well. We publicized them in the newspaper, we stood on the corner giving out handouts and flyers and tried to fill in the gaps by word of mouth. But time and time again these events were not well attended. I guess at the end of the day most people feel that if it’s free, it can’t be any good and is surely not worth our time.

I don’t know. Maybe this is why 95% charged for the event. I suspect they didn’t do it for the money. But who knows … maybe they’re more clever than we give them credit for. Maybe they did it to get people talking about the event. In which case, it worked!

Ted Mahsun said...

Best news I've heard in weeks! It's about time! I hope our local publishers respond to this by shaping up and producing some worthwhile translations.

bibliobibuli said...

you are right about things for free not being well attended. there is a psychological thing about it for sure. (though our monthly readings are free and have a pretty good attendance rate, i must say and the mph writers circle events can get up to 100 people). what i object to more is that if a short story collection is being launched on behalf of a major publishing house - surely this should be open to the public without fee, and surely those invited to speak should ahve a track record in their area of expertise? surely if people turn up and are disappointed, credibility goes down the drain?

and getting people talking about it? to me that's fine.

did anyone go last night???? how was it?

bibliobibuli said...

ted - if you become a translator just see how in demand you could be!

dreameridiot said...

Hurrah for Asian books! I hope it will generate both local and international interest towards literature of the region.

Dewan dan Pustaka... please do something, and don't sit among yourselves complaining about the erosion of language. Bahasa Melayu is also my language too, the language of Malaysians! Come up with anthologies... Start a classic literature series like Penguin... tarnslate classic texts and sell them overseas...

Hahah.. I got a bit 'worked up' there.

bibliobibuli said...

dreamer idiot - i think you are entitled to get worked up

Sufian said...

RE: Dreamer Idiot

So what if DBP sucks. If you think Malay is your language, use it.

dreameridiot said...

Sufian, I am trying my best... unfortunately, I am not as conversant with Malay as English, which has over the years become my primary language (Chinese has become a very, very, extremely distant third, behind malay, if you must know).

You may think I am a bit hypocritical in speaking about DBP... Well, I am just hoping that more be done in the promotion of the literary side of the language, because I feel that it would be the key to making the language popular. If the language is promoted as 'beautiful' (as I think it already is), it would becomes more attractive and 'cooler' to use it. Unfortunately, it is losing more ground with the crazy number of borrowings from the English language, wnen as a language it possesses those nuances and rhythms that are really 'poetic'. I think the fault is not so much with the current English language policy, as much as the lack of enjoyment, lack of appreciation for the language itself. Whoa... I think I talk too much already, but there is still other issues which are also important, such as the penetration of the language into popular culture etc. Haha, this is turning to some socioligustic debate...

Anyway, incidentally, if you would like to know, Sufian, I did read malay books when I was in school, but later stopped because there is less readibly available, and those that are, are not 'stuff' that I read, like entertainment majalah... Slowly, the use of malay dwindled... and there is a kind of lack of 'literary and intelectual' discourse enviroment that encourage the use of the depths and finer nuances of the language (as compared to just cakap-cakap conversations). Incidentlly, I bought a few issues of DBP's Dewan Sastera months back to read some of the puisi.

Sufian, perhaps you could help start a language revolution?

Sufian said...

Dreamer Idiot: You know how government agencies work.

**** them, I say. They are more interested in their afternoon teas and their little corruptions.

**** them.

You feel so strongly about the language, use it. You have a blog, write in Malay. You have friends, converse in Malay.

If you want reading materials, you can always try Indonesian books. Here are some names: Seno Gumira Adjidarma, Ayu Utami, Dewi Lestari, Goenawan Mohamed. (and if you must) Pramoedya (you can buy some of them at SIlverfish). Or read foreign books in translation. I have with me here a copy of Norwegian Wood, translated straight from the Japanese into BI.

Please, don't expect other people to do it for you.

Cause they won't

Really, they won't.

[Yes i do sound patronizing. But I don't mean to.]

Anonymous said...

Other than English ? you mean if I write in say, Sanskrit, they're gonna get someone to read it ? :)

What exactly IS an "asian voice" anyway ? are we talking about tone or pitch or volume ? :)

If we're talking about content, what exactly is "asian content" ? Amy Tan is American, yet I could swear she was writing about my (asian) family and not hers.

So what exactly IS an asian voice, and how does it differ from an American voice or British voice or whatever ? :)

bibliobibuli said...

good questions anon. they need a full debate to unravel though.