Commonwealth Writers’ Prize holds April, in India
RACE for the 24th Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book and Best First Book has began. Entries are currently being received. Winners are to be announced in Delhi, India on April 12. Organisers inform that the Best First Book winner will claim a cash award of 5,000 British Pounds while the writer of the Best Book wins 10,000 British Pounds.
The creative writing prize, launched at the Jaipur Literary Festival, was established in 1987. It is organised and funded by the Commonwealth Foundation – an intergovernmental body working to help civil society organisations promote democracy, development and cultural understanding in Commonwealth countries – with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation (the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group Ltd., a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and fund management services).
The prize is established to reward the best of Commonwealth fiction written in English, by both established and new writers, who are keen to take their works to a global audience.
The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize final programme is organised by the Commonwealth Foundation and Siyahi, India’s frontline promoters of varied forms of literature with specialisation in planning and executing workshops, festivals, book-readings, plays and performances. Siyahi will organise a series of literary events leading to the final announcement of the Prize.
There will be initial, continental shortlisting before the final programme, starting on 7 April in Delhi, India. The final event will bring together the eight finalists from the different continental regions of the Commonwealth as well as their corresponding judges for a celebration of literature which will include discussions with the authors, readings and community and public events. The final round of judging will take place in Delhi before the winners of the two categories of Overall Best Book and Best First Book are announced.
Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Mr. Mark Collins, said: “The final programme of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize comes in an important year for India at the heart of the modern Commonwealth. The Prize fires the starting pistol for a year of cultural celebration that will culminate in the Commonwealth Games. October will see the top athletes in the world going head to head on the racetrack, but in April, the finest literary talent of our two billion people will be equally as keen to take first prize.”
A Commonwealth’s official release informs that key literary figures and previous prize winners will also be present during the final stages of the competition. India’s internationally acclaimed writer, Vikram Chandra, who won the Best First Book in 1996 for Red Earth, Pouring Rain, and has since been the subject of bidding wars between several international publishers, said: “The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is coming back to India, bringing conversations, arguments, controversy, great books and a feast of literary pleasures.”
Chairman of the Macquarie Group, Mr. David Clarke, main sponsors of the prize, expressed his enthusiasm that the event is holding in India. “In the fifth year of Macquarie Group Foundation’s support of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, we are very pleased the winner will be announced in India, a country with an extremely distinguished literary history. Past entrants from all over the Commonwealth have exhibited consistently high standards and we’re sure 2010 will continue to present works of lasting and world-class merit,” he said.
Every year, prizes are given for the Best Book and Best First Book, valued at 1,000 British Pounds, in each of the four Commonwealth Regions: Africa, Caribbean and Canada, South Asia and Europe, and South East Asia and the Pacific. From these regions, the overall winner for the Best Book and Best First Book prizes are chosen. The 2009 judges are: Elinor Sisulu of South Africa (Chairperson of the Africa panel), Ajoa K. V. Yeboah-Afari (Ghana) and Dan Ojwang (Kenya). Caribbean and Canada region has Antonia MacDonald-Smythe of Grenada as Chairperson with Joan Thomas (Canada) and Brendan de Caires (Guyana) as members. Panelists in South Asia and Europe have Muneeza Shamsie (Pakistan) as Chairperson with Pablo Mukherjee (India) and Stephanos Stephanides (Cyprus). The Australian writer and critic, Anne Brewster, heads the South East Asia and Pacific panel which has such other members as Kee Thuan Chye (Malaysia) and Alice Te Punga Somerville (New Zealand).
The Best Book Prize in 2009 was awarded to Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas for The Slap while the Best First Book Prize went to Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif for A Case of Exploding Mangoes. The prizes were announced at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in New Zealand. The 2008 Overall winner was Lawrence Hill of Canada for The Book of Negroes.
For further More information about the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is available in: http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/culturediversity/writersprize/
Contacts for inquiry in India is Mita Kapur, Siyahi Tel: + 91 141 2245908
Final programme of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize will run from 7 to 12 April 7 to 12.