Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize 2011: Reviews from the week January 8-14

Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize 2011 Badge

Image created by Matt Todd of A Novel Approach

Week 9 of our Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize 2011 project and the shortlist has now been announced, as I reported earlier this week. However, we are still reading and reviewing in preparation for announcing “our” Shadow winner in early March, just before the announcement of the winner. This week’s reviews are:

  • Amitav Ghosh’s River of smoke (India) by Matt of A Novel Approach. Like me, Matt has not read the first book (Sea of poppies) in the planned trilogy, but he says he is now sold on the trilogy. Can’t think of higher praise than that I reckon.
  • Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village (China) by Lisa of ANZLitLovers. She describes it as a “powerful book” that shows “how quickly a society can degenerate under pressure”.
  • Anuradha Roy’s The folded earth (India) by Lisa of ANZLitLovers. Lisa calls this “a superb novel” and said she “enjoyed reading it the most”.

Shortlist news

Matt and Fay bravely posted their shortlist “picks” before the announcement, and Mark and Lisa discussed theirs in comments on Lisa’s blog. Stu and I did not have a go at shortlisting. Here is a summary of their selections:

  • Only one book was selected by all four – River of smoke – and it was selected by the judges.
  • Only one book was selected by only one, Matt, of the four – The lake – and it was selected by the judges, too!
  • Three books were selected by Fay, Mark and Lisa – Wandering falcon, The good Muslim and The sly company of people who care – and the first and third of these were also selected by the judges.
  • Please look after Mom was selected by Matt, Fay and Mark and by the judges.
  • Dream of Ding Village was selected by Matt, Fay and Lisa and by the judges.
  • The folded earth and The valley of masks were selected by Matt and Lisa but not by the judges.
  • Rebirth was selected by the judges but by none of our four, but then only one of them had read it due to limited availability for this title.
  • The colonel and IQ84 were not selected by our four or by the judges.

There’s a fair degree of unanimity regarding the shortlist, but this doesn’t mean that picking “our” Shadow winner will be straightforward. There are some strong feelings about some of the differences … Let’s just hope there won’t be blood on the floor! We’ll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, if you want a succinct rundown on the shortlisted books, you can read team member Mark’s article, “Your guide to the Man Asian Literary Prize shortlist”, in the online magazine, The Millions.

8 thoughts on “Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize 2011: Reviews from the week January 8-14

  1. This is very interesting. I’m not surprised that 1Q94 didn’t make it. River of Smoke must be well worth looking into. I wonder if any of the Man judges are following you?

    • No, I’m not surprised either Tom given the widely mixed opinions out there. River of smoke has to be a must-read I think. I don’t know if any are following me/us but we have had tweets from the MAL Prize organisers so they are interested in what we are doing and pleased with the promotion I think.

  2. Hi Sue, I read The Folded Earth a couple of days ago and really enjoyed the story. I just finished tonight, The Lake. I found it slow going at first but once the characters began to evolve I became more connected to them and found myself liking the read. I don’t know if you have read anything by the Japanese writer Amelie Nothomb, but a couple of weeks ago I read her Fear and Trembling which was a very good read, and one I would recommend. A short read, about office politics in a Japanese company.

    • Thanks Meg … I enjoyed The folded earth too. It’s an engaging read, but it’s not at the top of my Man Asian reads to date. I’m glad you liked The lake … it’s one of those books that gets you in, isn’t it?

      No, I haven’t heard of Amelie Northomb at all … so I’ll add her to my list. Thanks for the recommendation. Is it a translated book?

  3. Amelie Nothomb was born in Japan to Belgium parents. She now lives in France, and Fear and Trembling is translated from the French version. She won the Grand Prix de L’Academe Francaise and Prix Internet du livre. Fear and Trembling was also made into a film. I will certainly be looking for more of her books.

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