The Man Asian Literary Prize is an annual award given to the best novel by an Asian writer. The book must be available in English, but it doesn’t matter if it was originally written in another language. The winning author is awarded USD 30,000 and the translator (if any) USD 5,000. Earlier this month the 2010 winner was revealed to be Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu
The prize was founded in 2007 and as I’ve read all of the winners I thought it might be interesting to give a brief summary of them.
You can view my full reviews by clicking on the book title.
Three Sisters gives an insight into the lives of Chinese women and is especially good at demonstrating the importance of birth order within a family. It is easy to read and packed with details of the Chinese culture. I highly recommend it as an introduction to Chinese literature.
The Boat to Redemption is a coming-of-age story focusing on a boy and his father. It has a slow pace, but the characters are captivating. This novel assumes a knowledge of Chinese culture and mythology and so I do not recommend it to those unfamiliar with the country.
Illustrado is set in the Philippines and is a complex novel exposing corruption within the country. It is highly literary and often difficult to follow, but those with the patience to piece together all the clues love it.
Wolf Totem is set on the Mongolian grasslands and describes the constant battle that the nomads have with the wolves that live there. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in wolves, but be prepared for some graphic fight scenes.
Note: Illustrado was originally written in English, but all the other winners were translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt.
I love the diversity of this prize. All the books are very different to each other and to the majority of books published in this country. They are all very well written, but before starting you never know whether the book will be gripping and easy to read, or a complex narrative packed with references to myths you’ve never heard of. I look forward to following this prize each year and hope to read more of the books which were shortlisted in previous years.
Do you follow the Man Asian Literary Prize?
Are there any books from the shortlists that I should make a special effort to read?