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Press Release: Prizes and Awards
2012 Man Asian Literary Prize Longlist Displays The Literary Rise Of Asia

Posted at 3:10PM Tuesday 04 Dec 2012

2012 Man Asian Literary Prize longlist displays the literary rise of Asia

HONG KONG – Novels showcasing the power of the writing emerging across the whole breadth of Asia were put on display today as the fifteen books longlisted for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize were unveiled.

A record number of 108 published novels were submitted for Asia's most prestigious literary prize with the longlisted books spread right across Asia from Turkey to Japan.

Migration of rural Chinese workers to Shenzhen, the difficult transition of Bombay to Mumbai, the far reaching consequences of Mao's Cultural Revolution as well as struggles with identity and assimilation in the shadow of the Vietnam War, all feature in the 2012 longlist which includes three debut novelists and seven books appearing in English translation.

Nine different Asian countries are represented, many of them seen afresh through the eyes of women, migrants and story-tellers on the margins. The list also includes an early intricate and stunning book by Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, now appearing in English for the first time.

The longlisted novels are:

-Goat Days – Benyamin (India)

-Between Clay and Dust - Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)

-Another Country - Anjali Joseph (India)

-The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)

-Thinner Than Skin - Uzma Aslam Khan (Pakistan)

-Ru - Kim Thúy (Vietnam / Canada*)

-Black Flower - Young-Ha Kim (South Korea)

-Island of a Thousand Mirrors - Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)

-Silent House - Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

-Honour - Elif Shafak (Turkey)

-Northern Girls - Sheng Keyi (China)

-The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)

-The Road To Urbino – Roma Tearne (Sri Lanka / U.K.*)

-Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil (India)

-The Bathing Women – Tie Ning (China)

* These writers are eligible under the Prize's new rule governing cases in which writers have lost their Asian nationality through state action.

Award winning literary critic, journalist and Chair of Judges, Maya Jaggi, said, "The far-ranging stories on our longlist draw the reader into some beautiful and some grueling landscapes: from the glaciers of northern Pakistan to the unforgiving Saudi desert; from an affluent Istanbul seaside resort to a Bombay opium den - and further afield to Montreal and Mexico. I am delighted to see that range reflected in the breadth of original languages on our list, with novels translated from Chinese, Japanese and Korean, as well as Turkish, French and Malayalam."

Professor David Parker, Executive Director of the Asian Literary Prize, the organising body of the award, said, "This list testifies to the strength and variety of new writing coming out of a culturally emergent Asia. It is full of stories the world hasn't heard before and which the world needs to hear. It brings together seven books in English translation, which means that, as well as introducing exciting debut novelists, the Prize is also bringing to international attention some best-selling and important writers who are little known outside their own language communities."

Joining Maya Jaggi as Prize Judges for 2012 are award winning Vietnamese-American novelist Monique Truong and novelist Vikram Chandra, most notably winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

The shortlist of 5 or 6 titles will be announced on January 9th 2013. The winner, who will receive USD 30,000, will be announced on March 14th 2013 at a black tie Prize Dinner in Hong Kong, the home of the Prize.

Last year's winner, Please Look After Mom by South Korean writer Kyung-sook Shin has gone on to sell over 2m copies worldwide. Previous winners of the Prize include Bi Feiyu (2010), Su Tong (2009), Miguel Syjuco (2008) and Jiang Rong (2007).

Following the announcement of the 2012 winner in March 2013, the current sponsor Man Group will relinquish its title sponsorship. As of April 2013 a new title sponsor will sponsor the Asian Literary Prize. Negotiations with interested sponsors are currently ongoing.


For press enquiries please contact Mr. Harrison Kelly

E/ T/ (+852) 6695 5394

Author images and jacket covers available from the Press Office

Available for comment

- Maya Jaggi, Chair of Judges for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize

- Professor David Parker, Executive Director of the Asian Literary Prize

The 2012 Longlisted Books

Goat Days

By Benyamin (India)

Translated from the Malayalam by Joseph Koyippally

Published by Penguin Books India

Najeeb's dearest wish is to work in the Gulf and earn enough money to send back home. He achieves his dream only to be propelled by a series of incidents, grim and absurd, into a slave-like existence herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert. Memories of the lush, verdant landscape of his village and of his loving family haunt Najeeb whose only solace is the companionship of goats. In the end, the lonely young man contrives a hazardous scheme to escape his desert prison.

Benyamin was born in Kulanda, a small town in Kerala, in 1971. Having studied to become an engineer, he currently works as a project coordinator for an electro-mechanical company in Bahrain. Benyamin views himself as an expat writer but not a writer in exile. He has made a home for himself outside India and now chooses to remain there. Goat Days was published to acclaim in Malayalam and became a bestseller.

Between Clay and Dust

By Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)

Published by Aleph Book Company

Ustad Ramzi was once the greatest wrestler in the land, famed for his enormous strength

and unmatched technique. Young apprentices flocked to his akhara to learn the craft, fans adored him and rival wrestling clans feared his resolve that would never admit defeat. The courtesan Gohar Jan was just as renowned. Celebrated throughout the country for her beauty and the power and melodiousness of her singing, her kotha was thronged by nobles, rich men and infatuated admirers. Between Clay and Dust begins with a glimpse of these extraordinary characters in the twilight of their lives.

Musharraf Ali Farooqi was born in 1968 in Hyderabad, Pakistan. His previous novel, The Story of a Widow (2009), was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He is also the highly acclaimed translator of Urdu classics Hoshruba (2009) and The Adventures of Amir Hamza (2007), contemporary Urdu poet Afzal Ahmed Syed's selected poetry Rococo and Other Worlds (2010) and Urdu writer Syed Muhammad Ashraf's novel The Beast (2010).

Another Country

By Anjali Joseph (India)

Published by HarperCollins, Fourth Estate

Paris, London, Bombay: three cities form a backdrop to a journey through Leela's twenties at the dawn of the new millennium, as she learns to negotiate the world, work, relationships and sex, and find some measure of authenticity. Another Country brings a cool eye to friendship, love, and the idea of belonging in its movements through old and new worlds.

Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay in 1978. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has taught English at the Sorbonne, written for the Times of India in Bombay and been a Commissioning Editor for ELLE (India). Her first novel, Saraswati Park, won the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Betty Trask Prize and India's Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction. Anjali Joseph was chosen as one of the Telegraph's '20 under 40' best writers.

The Briefcase

By Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)

Translated from the Japanese by Alison Markin Powell

Published by Counterpoint Press

Tsukiko, thirty-eight, works in an office and lives alone. One night, she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, "Sensei" in a local bar. He is thirty years her senior, retired, and presumably a widower. Their relationship–traced by Kawakami's gentle hints at the changing seasons–develops from a perfunctory acknowledgment of each other as they eat and drink alone at the bar, to an enjoyable sense of companionship, and finally into a deeply sentimental love affair.

Hiromi Kawakami was born in Tokyo and graduated from Ochanomizu Women's College in 1980. Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled God (Kamisama) was published in 1994. She was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for Tread On A Snake, the Itō Sei Literature Prize and the Woman Writer's Prize for Oboreru and won the Tanizaki Prize for her novel The Teacher's Briefcase.

Thinner Than Skin

By Uzma Aslam Khan (Pakistan)

Published by Interlink Publishing, Clockroot Books and HarperCollins Canada

Nadir, a young Pakistani man trying to make his way as photographer in America, falls in love with Farhana, the daughter of a Pakistani father and German mother brought up in the US. Together they journey to Pakistan, but they are not the only interlopers here: a suspect in a recent bombing has arrived just before them, and the authorities' hunt for him casts a dangerous shadow over their journey.

Uzma Aslam Khan is the author of three previous novels, including Trespassing, The Story of Noble Rot, and The Geometry of God. Uzma's story Ice, Mating was included in Granta magazine's edition on Pakistan. She is the winner of the Bronze Award in the Independent Publishers Book Award, and a finalist for Foreword Magazine's Best Books of 2009.


By Kim Thúy (Vietnam / Canada*)

Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman

Published by Profile Books, Clerkenwell Press

Ru: In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, money. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, the reader is carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec.

Kim Thúy has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner. She was born in Vietnam in 1968 and currently lives in Montréal, Québec with her husband and two sons where she now devotes herself to writing full-time.

Black Flower

By Young-ha Kim (South Korea)

Translated from the Korean by Charles La Shure

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In 1904, as the Russo-Japanese War deepened, more than a thousand Koreans left their homes to seek possibility elsewhere – in unknown Mexico. After a long sea voyage, these emigrants disembark with the promise of land. Soon they discover the truth: they have been sold into indentured servitude.

Aboard ship, an orphan, Ijeong, fell in love with the daughter of a noble; separated when the various haciendados claim their laborers, he vows to find her. After years of working in the punishing heat of the henequen fields, the Koreans are caught in the midst of a Mexican revolution. Some flee with Ijeong to Guatemala, where they found a New Korea amid Mayan ruins.

Young-ha Kim's Black Flower won Korea's Dong-in Prize; his first novel, I Have the Right to Destroy Myself was a Border's Original Voices pick upon publication in the United States.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors

By Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)

Published by Perera Hussein Publishing House

This debut novel follows the fate of two families, one Tamil, one Sinhala, as they straddle opposite sides of the long and brutal civil war in Sri Lanka. Narrated by the eldest daughter of each family, the story explores how each woman negotiates war, migration, love, exile, and belonging.

Nayomi Munaweera was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Nigeria. She now lives in Oakland, California.

Silent House

By Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

Translated from the Turkish by Robert Finn

Published by Alfred A. Knopf

Never before published in English, Orhan Pamuk's second novel is the story of a Turkish family gathering in the shadow of the impending military coup of 1980.

In a crumbling mansion in Cennethisar the old widow Fatma awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. The widow has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, first arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her faithful servant Recep, a dwarf—and the doctor's illegitimate son. Mistress and servant share memories, which draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm, in this novel depicting Turkey's tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. His novel My Name Is Red won the 2003 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His work has been translated into more than sixty languages.


By Elif Shafak (Turkey)

Published by Penguin Books, Viking

Leaving her twin sister behind, Pembe leaves Turkey for love - following her husband Adem to London. There the Topraks hope to make new lives for themselves and their children. Yet, no matter how far they travel, the traditions and beliefs the Topraks left behind stay with them - carried in the blood.

A powerful novel set in Turkey and London in the 1970s, Honour explores pain and loss, loyalty and betrayal, the trials of the immigrant, the clash of tradition and modernity, as well as the love and heartbreak that too often tears families apart.

Elif Shafak is one of Turkey's leading novelists. She has been translated into more than thirty languages and sold over 600,000 copies of The Forty Rules of Love. She is the recipient of several prestigious international honours and awards, including the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. She has been long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the IMPAC Dublin Award and won the Maria Grazia Cutuli Award.

Northern Girls

By Sheng Keyi (China)

Translated from the Chinese by Shelly Bryant

Published by Penguin China, Viking in assoc. with Penguin Australia

In the wake of a family scandal, sixteen-year-old Qian Xiaohong abandons her Hunan village and heads for the glitz and glamour of Shenzhen. Teeming with young people shedding the bonds of family and history to start afresh, this new metropolis is the perfect antidote for a young woman seeking to flee a stifling rural community. But Xiaohong swiftly discovers this escape brings its own dangers, and the vulnerability and violence that greet the arrival of hopeful migrants to the city are brought into devastatingly stark focus.

Sheng Keyi had a rural upbringing and writes of the migrant experience with the depth of personal insight: she was born in Hunan and is now living in Beijing after several years spent living in Shenzhen. Through her writing, she addresses the issues that affect women in China today. A multi-prizewinning author in Chinese, Northern Girls will be the first of her works to be published in English.

The Garden of Evening Mists

By Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)

Published by Myrmidon Books

Set during the Japanese occupation, The Garden of Evening Mists follows young law graduate, Yun Ling Teoh, as she seeks solace among the plantations of the Cameron Highlands. Here she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the secretive Aritomo. Aritomo agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon" so that she can design a garden in memorial to her sister. But over time the jungle starts to reveal secrets of its own...

Tan Twan Eng was born in 1972 in Penang, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He studied law at the University of London and later worked as lawyer in one of Kuala Lumpur's most reputable law firms. He also has a first-dan ranking in aikido and is a strong proponent for the conservation of heritage buildings. His first novel, The Gift of Rain, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, The Garden of Evening Mists was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012.

The Road to Urbino

By Roma Tearne (Sri Lanka / U.K.)

Published by Little Brown Group, Abacus

Ras, a Sri Lankan who fled his country as a child following the violent death of his mother and his father's disappearance, has committed a crime. Dogged by his past and unable to come to terms with the killing of his mother, he struggles to make a new life for himself in the UK.

Alex has loved Dee since he was 19 but failed to realise that it was a love he wouldn't find again. After Dee's marriage, he too struggles to build a meaningful life for himself. But when Ras' and Alex's lives connect, each man takes a new path culminating for Ras in the theft of a della Franceso painting, while Alex comes ever closer to Dee through tragedy in her life.

Roma Tearne is an artist and novelist. She is the author of four previous works of fiction: The Swimmer (longlisted for the Orange Prize 2010), Brixton Beach (selected for C4's The TV Book Club), Mosquito (shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards First Novel Prize 2007) and Bone China. Born in Sri Lanka, she arrived with her parents in Britain at the age of ten and trained as a painter, completing her MA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford.


By Jeet Thayil (India)

Published by Faber & Faber

Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid's opium room the air is thick with voices and ghosts: Hindu, Muslim, Christian. A young woman holds a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her eyes. Men sprawl and mutter in the gloom. Here, they say you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. Stretching across three decades, with an interlude in Mao's China, Narcopolis portrays a city in collision with itself. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld.

Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India in June 1959 and educated in Hong Kong, New York and Bombay. He is a performance poet, songwriter and guitarist, and has published four collections of poetry. He is the editor of The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (2008). Narcopolis was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

The Bathing Woman

By Tie Ning (China)

Translated from the Chinese by Hongling Zhang and Jason Sommer

Published by HarperCollins, Blue Door and Simon & Schuster, Scribner

Displaced from Beijing as a result of Mao's Cultural Revolution, sisters Tiao and Fan live in the small town of Fuan. Their childhood consists of daily denouncements, cooking from Soviet Woman magazine and searching for the elusive red lipstick worn by women from the capital. Their lives are irrevocably changed when they witness the death of their baby sister, Quan. It is a death that they could have prevented; a death with the power to destroy their family.

Tie Ning won a national short story award at the age of twenty-five and is the recipient of numerous other literary prizes. She has published ten books—collections of short fiction, essays, and novels—three of which were made into movies and television series, including The Bathing Women. In 2006, at the age of forty-nine, she was elected president of the Chinese Writers Association, becoming the youngest writer and first woman to be honored in this way. The Bathing Women is her first novel to be translated into English.


For press enquiries please contact Mr. Harrison Kelly

E/ T/ (+852) 6695 5394


Available for comment

- Professor David Parker, Executive Director of the Man Asian Literary Prize

- Maya Jaggi, Chair of Judges for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize

About The Man Asian Literary Prize

The Man Asian Literary Prize was founded in 2007. It is an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year. The judges choose a longlist of 10 to 15 titles announced this year on December 4th 2012, followed by a shortlist of 5 to 6 titles to be announced on January 9th 2013, and a winner, which will be announced on March 14th 2013. The winning author is awarded USD 30,000 and the translator (if any) USD 5,000.

About Man

Man is a world-leading alternative investment management business. It has expertise in a wide range of liquid investment styles including managed futures, equity, credit and convertibles, emerging markets, global macro and multi-manager, combined with powerful product structuring, distribution and client service capabilities. At 30 September 2012, Man managed US$ 60.0 billon.

The original business was founded in 1783. Today, Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 250 Index with a market capitalisation of around £ 1.4 billion. Man is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Man also supports many awards, charities and initiatives around the world, including sponsorship of the Man Booker literary prizes. Further information can be found at

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