MAL Prize Shortlist Thoughts (Updated)


The shortlist for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize has just been announced. There are five books on the list:

Between Clay and Dust – Musharraf Ali Farroqi (Pakistan)
The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)
Silent House – Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)
Narcopolis – Jeet Thayil (India)

I’m happy to see Between Clay and Dust and The Garden of Evening Mists there. I’m content to see Narcopolis there. I haven’t read the other two, though I will now get on that.

I mentioned in the earlier version of this post (keep scrolling to see it) that I would be devastated if two books didn’t make it to the shortlist. Neither of them did. Northern Girls, by Sheng Keyi, and Thinner Than Skin, by Uzma Aslam Khan, are both excellent novels – the first, an angry, passionate debut about feminism in China; the second, a beautiful, elegiac look at forgiveness and revenge in humanity. If you get a chance, please look for them – I love them both.

It’s interesting to see no Chinese book on the shortlist – for the first time ever in the prize. I’m also a little saddened that, of the 9 women on the longlist, only one of them made it to the shortlist. I am happy, though, that each author is from a different country, covering the entire Asian region.

The Shadow Jury has its work cut out for it, now that the shortlist is out. We will be announcing our winner a few days before the real winner is announced on 14 March 2013.



In a little over five hours, the shortlist for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize will be announced in Hong Kong.

I have no idea what will be on the list. Apart from one or two dodgy entries, the quality of writing for this year’s longlist has been, I think, of a higher average quality than last year. Most excitingly, though, is the emergence of small presses on the longlist – many of my favourite entries have come from small presses both in Asia and the rest of the world. It bodes well for the future of writing in the Asia-Pacific region.

I’ve only read ten of the novels on the fifteen-strong longlist: I’ve not had a chance to look at either of the Turkish novels, Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House and Elif Shafak’s Honour, or Roma Tearne’s The Road to Urbino; Hiromi Kawakami’s The Briefcase I’m saving for the end of the month for a group read; and I still can’t source a copy of Benyamin’s Goat Days. I had planned on having my review of Island of a Thousand Mirrors up this morning, but got lazy and haven’t finished writing it yet. It will be up by the end of the week.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve only chosen a dream shortlist of five novels. And in no particular order (well, in alphabetical order), here’s what I’d like to see on that list.

Between Clay and Dust, Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)
Thinner Than Skin, Uzma Aslam Khan (Pakistan)
Island of a Thousand Mirrors, Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)
Northern Girls, Sheng Keyi (China)
The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)

I will be devastated if two of those novels don’t make it on to the shortlist – but I won’t tell you quite yet what they are. There are some other novels that I won’t mind being there – Narcopolis and The Bathing Women were pretty close.

To read the other reviews of Shadow Jury, see this page, where I’ve collated all that have been published so far. We’ve achieved our goal of every longlisted novel being reviewed by at least one of us. We will all read all the shortlist, and announce our winner a few days before the real winner is revealed on 14 March 2013.

As ever, visit the Man Asian Literary Prize website here, or follow all the action on Twitter using the hashtag #manasian.


2 thoughts on “MAL Prize Shortlist Thoughts (Updated)

  1. markbooks says:

    Sigh. I’m afraid devastated is the word.

  2. Tony says:

    My thoughts – the Asian Prize wants prestige, so picking a couple from the Booker shortlist and a Nobel Laureate is an unsurprising step (Kawakami is fairly high-profile too).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: