Commonwealth Writers’ Prize finalists demonstrate global character

The London Book Fair,14 April 2010


Commonwealth Writers’ Prize finalists demonstrate global character

Authors from seven different countries made the final of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

They include authors from across the Commonwealth, including South African writer Marie Heese and Michael Crummey from Canada.

However, it was a British author who claimed the top prize.

Rana Dasgupta won the overall prize for his novel Solo, while an Australian writer, Glenda Guest, won the award for best first novel.

Speaking to the Guardian, Dasgupta expressed his surprise and delight at claiming the award.

“The news is about five minutes old so I’m a little stunned,” he said, adding that the invitation to an audience with the queen, which is traditionally extended to prize-winners, would be gratefully expected.

Mark Collins, the director of the Commonwealth Foundation, said that the level of talent on display had made competition particularly fierce this year.

The prize’s chair, Justice Nicholas Hasluck, also praised the scope and diversity evident in the award.

“I am honoured to be involved in bringing the cultural insights of these stories to a truly international audience and enriching the fabric of the literary world,” he said.

By way of example he chose to highlight some of the books which have made it to the final stages.

“A searing indictment from Nigeria of societies that reward corruption” sits alongside texts from Samoa and Canada which attempt to shine light on social and cultural experiences peculiar to those authors’ societies and belief.

David Clarke, the chairman of the Macquarie Group Foundation, the award’s main sponsor, said: “The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is unique in giving a voice to authors who throw light on evolving social realities.”

Of the regions considered, only the Caribbean failed to provide a finalist. It is grouped with Canada for judging purposes, from which Shandi Mitchell joined Crummey in advancing.

Former winners include luminaries of the global literary world, with Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje and Louis de Bernieres all previously claiming the prestigious award.

Rana Dasgupta will likely be hoping that this award will be the springboard to the kind of success that those authors have enjoyed.