The Kiriyama PrizeCelebrating Literary Voices of the Pacific Rim
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About the Prize

What is the Kiriyama Prize?
The Kiriyama Prize, originally called the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, consists of a cash award of US$30,000. Both fiction and nonfiction full-length books are eligible for the Prize. Half of the cash award is given to the author of the winning fiction title, and half is given to the author of the winning nonfiction title.

The Prize is presented by Pacific Rim Voices, a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 in San Francisco. Pacific Rim Voices received its first grants from Reverend Seiyu Kiriyama, president and founder of Agon Shu, a Buddhist Association headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and the Prize was therefore named in his honor. The Kiriyama Prize, like Pacific Rim Voices, has no specific political or religious agenda. More information about Pacific Rim Voices and its other projects is available at

What does “Pacific Rim” mean as far as the Prize is concerned?
For the purposes of the Kiriyama Prize we define "Pacific Rim" as including the countries of four distinct sub-regions bordering on the Pacific Ocean, together with the Indian subcontinent. These include the North Pacific made up of China, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, North and South Korea, and Eastern Russia; all the countries of Southeast Asia; the Southwest Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and the diverse states, territories, and islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia; the Americas, including the countries of Central and South America on the eastern shores of the Pacific, together with Canada, Mexico, and the United States in North America. Reaching out beyond the geographical Pacific, the Prize also embraces the countries of the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The Kiriyama Prize: Why and How?
The aim of the Prize is to promote books that will contribute to greater understanding of and among the peoples and nations of the Pacific Rim and South Asia.

Each year, publishers are invited to submit books for the Prize. The books entered must be concerned with the Pacific Rim, as described above, in a significant way. They must also be in English, either originating or translated into English from any other language.  Authors who reside in any country in the world are eligible.

The Prize Schedule
In past years, the Kiriyama Prize was awarded annually in late October. Since 2004, the Prize has been awarded in the month of March to books published during the previous calendar year. For example, the 2007 Prize is open only to books published between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007; the 2008 Prize will be awarded in March 2008.

The judges, who play an essential role in the whole Prize process, carefully consider the books that have been submitted. The task of the judges is to award the Prize to books that, in their opinion, are outstanding works that fulfill the goal of the award to strengthen understanding of and among peoples and nations throughout the Pacific Rim and South Asia.

There are two separate panels of judges, one for fiction and one for nonfiction. Each panel consists of five judges, and each panel is responsible for compiling a shortlist of five finalists from among the books submitted for the Prize in their category. Each panel is also responsible for selecting the Prize-winning book in their category from among those included in their shortlists of finalists.

Throughout the years of the Prize the judges have played a key role. The long term credibility of the Prize rests with good and balanced judgements being made with insight, consistency and fairness. The judges have come from many walks of life and, increasingly, they are also drawn from many countries and ethnic backgrounds. The panels of judges have given generously of their time and energy to discern good shortlists of finalists and good winners.

In view of the abundance of good entries, not all of which can be represented in the five-book shortlists, notable books in the fiction and nonfiction categories are also now selected each year from the judges’ top choices. This allows many more fine books to be recognized and promoted from among the more than 200 entries each year. Pacific Rim Voices will continue to seek the generous help of good judges from many countries and regions over the coming years.

Recognizing and Celebrating Many Voices
The purpose of the Prize is to recognize and celebrate books, together with their authors and publishers, and to bring them to attention of a wide international audience. If greater understanding of and among the peoples of the Pacific Rim is to be achieved, many voices need to be recognized and heeded. No single voice, no single book, can possibly be sufficient. There are many voices, there are many points of view. Over a period of time, however, a wide variety of voices, if listened to with an open heart and mind, can assist in dismantling barriers; they can help to overcome prejudice and fear. In this way they can contribute to the kind of communication necessary in any attempt to build human community. If the Prize has any single underlying idea or ideal, it is that the attempt to create human community, in which there is mutual respect, acceptance, and goodwill, is an ideal worth pursuing. The written word, as expressed in books, has a vital role to play in such an attempt.

Who sponsors and administers the Kiriyama Prize?
The Prize is sponsored and administered by Pacific Rim Voices. The Prize administrator is Peter Coughlan and the Prize manager is Jeannine Stronach (formerly Cuevas).


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