Debut Filipino novelist wins Man Asian literary prize

Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:52am EST
 
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HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Filipino writer Miguel Syjuco won the $10,000 Man Asian Literary prize Thursday, a fledgling award launched by the backers of the world-renowned Booker prize to recognize the region's top literary talent.

Manila-born Syjuco won the award for his debut novel Ilustrado which tells the tale of an acolyte of a famous Filipino writer who dies in mysterious circumstances in a family saga spanning four generations of Philippine history.

Syjuco was chosen from a shortlist of five Asian authors including Kavery Nambisan and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi from India, Yu Hua of China and Alfred A. Yuson of the Philippines.

The judges of the prize were Canada's former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Australian scholar and writer Nicholas Jose and writer Pankaj Mishra.

"Ilustrado seems to us to possess formal ambition, linguistic inventiveness and sociopolitical insight in the most satisfying measure," the judges said in a statement.

"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."

Chinese writer Jiang Rong won the inaugural prize last year for his autobiographical novel "Wolf Totem" about self-discovery and the relationship between man and wolf on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution.

Man Group Plc is known for sponsoring the world-renowned Man Booker Prize, which rewards the best novel of the year by a writer from Britain, Ireland or a Commonwealth country. The Booker, founded in 1969, has gone in the past to literary giants such as Salman Rushdie and J.M. Coetzee. (Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Valerie Lee)