Monday, March 08, 2010

Man "Asian" Literary Prize: Restructured

As seen via Exie Abola's Twitter: Man "Asian" Literary Prize: Restructured. An excerpt:

Nury Vittachi (who has his own history with this prize) writes: Heard the one about vanishing literary prize? It's a mystery -- as, apparently, for a while there it looked like the Man 'Asian' Literary Prize had been wiped from the map (and Internet).
It turns out that it hasn't gone (or been taken) away. Indeed, now it's back -- bigger and badder than ever.
The Man 'Asian' Literary Prize, you'll recall, was, for the past few years, a prize for an: "Asian novel unpublished in English" (whereby their definition of 'Asian' was so arbitrary that the use of it in the prize-name was inappropriate and outright misleading (and which is also the reason why I only refer to it as the "Man 'Asian' Literary Prize" -- and will continue to do so until fiction originally written in Arabic (by Asian authors), Persian, Turkish, the languages of the Central Asian stans, etc. etc. is also prize-eligible (as it has not been to date)).
Now, however, they've 'restructured' the prize. Boy, have they restructured it .....
Their preliminary announcement doesn't provide much information (including whether or not it will finally be a truly Asian prize, or remain an 'Asian' one ...), but does indicate some of the major changes.
The most significant of these is that the prize that used to be for an "Asian novel unpublished in English" will now be awarded: "for a novel written by a citizen of an Asian country and first published in English in 2010". I.e. they've practically turned the whole thing on its head: where the ostensible purpose of the prize was always to introduce new 'Asian' writers to English-reading audiences, now they're only interested in the stuff that's already been taken on by English-language publishers. Don't expect too many shortlisted works from Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, etc. etc. from now on. On the other hand: expect a surge of titles translated from the regional Indian languages, since many of these do get translated into English -- albeit generally only in India-only editions. And expect a surge of even more titles originally written in English -- more likely to have already been published in the author's home country, if that country is India, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.
The M'A'LP-folk also try to make this prize more eye-catching (i.e. media-attention-grabbing) the only way they know how: by increasing the money on offer, trebling the award from US$10,000 to US$30,000. But, to prove how little translation matters (and is wanted: it's clear they prefer the books to be written in English) they didn't even double the money a translator would get if the winning title is a translation: it was US$3,000 and is now US$5,000. (Edith Grossman had it right, about translators getting no respect .....)
Finally -- and this is the change that I find most irritating -- whereas in previous years works had to be "submitted by the author or the current holder of the rights to the English language version" they have now taken the UK Man Booker-approach, with submissions only permitted by publishers -- and, just like the UK Man Booker: "Each publisher may enter up to two eligible books", and no more.

Click here to read the whole piece.


Blogger Tarie Sabido said...

Errr. What is up with that prize?

* disappointed *

11:47 PM  
Blogger pgenrestories said...

It does seem less open to works by newer writers.

Maybe they did this to filter out submissions. So the fact that the entries should be previously published means that the publishers act like slush-pile managers. Lessens their work load.

Of course, the drawback is that new, unknown writers have one less vehicle to see their work recognized and read. They'll have to go through a publisher, the traditional route.

8:31 AM  

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