14 November 2008

Pinoy Wins Asian Book Prize

Photo courtesy of undoy
According to Agence France-Presse, a novel by Filipino author Miguel Syjuco, which touches on 150 years of often turbulent Philippines history, has won a major Asian literary prize in Hong Kong. Syjuco's "Ilustrado" was awarded the second annual Man Asian Literary Prize, which is open to novels from the region not yet published in English.

"Ilustrado seems to us to possess formal ambition, linguistic inventiveness and socio-political insight in the most satisfying measure," the panel of three judges said in a statement, after awarding the US$ 10,000 prize on 13 November 2008.

"Brilliantly conceived, and stylishly executed, it covers a large and tumultuous historical period with seemingly effortless skill. It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humor."

The story is a fictional account of a young Filipino investigating the life of his mentor Crispin Salvador, a real-life writer and thinker, after the man's death.

It examines the disappearance of Salvador's manuscript about the corruption behind rich Filipino families.

Syjuco beat off competition from fellow Filipino Alfred A. Yuson for "The Music Child," Indian writers Kavery Nambisan for "The Story that Must Not be Told" and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi for "The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay."

Chinese writer Yu Hua was also shortlisted for "Brothers."

The panel said the shortlist of five novels had shown the "great vitality" of the novel in a region "undergoing hectic and unexpected transformations."

Last year's inaugural prize was won by Chinese author Jiang Rong for his novel "Wolf Totem," which has since been published by Penguin.

The prize is backed by the company that sponsors the prestigious Booker prize, based in Britain.