The Kiriyama PrizeCelebrating Literary Voices of the Pacific Rim
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FOR RELEASE ON: February 24, 2004

Seasoned writers and first-time authors in the running for international award celebrating books from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia

SAN FRANCISCO (February 24, 2004) – Pacific Rim Voices announced today the finalists for the 2004 Kiriyama Prize, now being awarded for the eighth time.

Two Prize-winners, one for fiction and one for nonfiction, will be named on March 23, 2004. The winners will share equally the US $30,000 cash prize.

Among the five fiction finalists are a Nepalese-American author with his first published novel; previous winners and finalists of the U.K.’s Man Booker Prize and the U.S. National Book Award; and a young Chinese novelist, now living in France, whose award-winning work is available for the first time in English.

Commenting on the fiction list, author and historian Patrick Hatcher, chair of the fiction panel, noted: "These five unique books are linked, first of all, because they represent good writing, the kind of literature that is a pleasure to read. In keeping with the spirit of the prize, the judges discovered novels that go beyond national boundaries and examine universal themes in human relationships - among them, love, marriage, family, alienation, betrayal, loss - with references to larger cultural, political, and historical issues."

Former publisher, editor, and nonfiction panel chair Elisa Miller described the nonfiction books – which include work by scholars, historians, memoirists, and one debut author – as “closing the gap between understanding and mis—understanding.” Prize Manager Jeannine Cuevas added: “The judges considered a record number of submissions this year and arrived at a selection of finalists that sheds light on cultures in India, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Malaysia, and Russia. The high number of entries reflects a growing recognition of the need for books that help people to understand one another and to appreciate cultures other than their own."

The list of finalists follows the body of this release, and additional information on the authors and their work can be found at the Kiriyama Prize website,

The Kiriyama Prize is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding books that promote greater understanding of and among the nations of the Pacific Rim (East and Southeast Asia, Australia, Pacific Islands, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the United States, and the Pacific-bordering nations of Latin America) and of the South Asian subcontinent. Authors from anywhere in the world are eligible, provided that their work is written in English or translated into English, and that it relates to the nations of the Pacific Rim or South Asia in a significant way.

Past finalists and winners include Sherman Alexie, Cheng Ch’ing-wen, Carlos Fuentes, Patricia Grace, Ha Jin, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Ruth L. Ozeki, Elena Poniatowska, Kerri Sakamoto, Pascal Khoo Thwe, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Simon Winchester, and Tim Winton.

Pacific Rim Voices, sponsor of the Kiriyama Prize, continues to develop a family of projects celebrating literature from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia. Recognizing the importance of instilling in young people an appreciation and respect for other cultures, the organization also sponsors, a website offering a lively, colorful presentation of children’s and young adults’ books and featuring reviews, interviews, and a virtual gallery of picture book illustrations.

For more information about the Kiriyama Prize and the 2004 finalists, visit, or contact Jeannine Cuevas, Prize Manager, at 415/777-1628 or via email .


FICTION: Five finalists out of 200 eligible entries

Brick Lane
by Monica Ali (Random House, Australia; Transworld Publishers/Doubleday, UK; Simon & Schuster/Scribner, USA)

My Life as a Fake
by Peter Carey (Random House, Australia; Random House of Canada; Faber & Faber, UK; Alfred A. Knopf, USA)

The Great Fire
by Shirley Hazzard (Virago/Little Brown, UK; Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA)

The Girl Who Played Go
by Shan Sa, translated by Adriana Hunter (Alfred A. Knopf,
USA; Chatto and Windus, UK)
The Guru of Love
by Samrat Upadhyay (Houghton Mifflin Company, USA)

NONFICTION: Five finalists out of 203 eligible entries

Dancing with Strangers
by Inga Clendinnen (Text Publishing/Melbourne, Australia)

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India
by William Dalrymple (Penguin Books, India; HarperCollins, UK; Viking, USA)

Out of God's Oven: Travels in a Fractured Land
by Dom Moraes and Sarayu Srivatsa (Penguin Books, India)

Secrets and Spies: The Harbin Files
by Mara Moustafine (Random House, Australia)

Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History
by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierny (University of Chicago Press)

Brief descriptions of the finalists follow:

Brick Lane by Monica Ali
(Random House Australia; Transworld Publishers/Doubleday, UK; Simon & Schuster/Scribner, USA)
Nazneen, a teenage bride from Bangladesh, is married off to Chanu, a chubby, middle-aged underachiever living in an oppressive immigrant borough of London. While Nazneen is unhappy in England and finds Chanu difficult to love, she constantly contrasts her own life with the far worse fate of her sister, who married for love, but is abused by her husband and later forced into prostitution to survive. Nazneen’s transformation from fatalistic victim to a strong-minded woman in charge of her own destiny lies at the heart of this finely wrought debut novel.

Author Monica Ali, who was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and grew up in England, was named one of the 20 best young British writers by Granta. Brick Lane was also a finalist for the UK's prestigious Man Booker Prize.

My Life as A Fake by Peter Carey
(Random House, Australia; Random House of Canada; Faber & Faber, UK; Alfred A. Knopf, USA)
Presenting fiction and fakery at many levels, this story chronicles the journey of Sarah Wode-Douglass, editor of a London poetry magazine, who accompanies the famous John Slater on a trip to Malaysia. From there, she travels to Kuala Lumpur where she meets by chance a destitute Australian – who is perhaps a mad genius, but who, in any case, teases Sarah with a manuscript that she is desperate to acquire. Carey weaves stories within a story, poking fun at literary pretension, exploring artistic obsession, and questioning what is or is not authentic in the creation of fiction.

Peter Carey is a two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize for The True History of the Kelly Gang and for Oscar and Lucinda. He is the author of seven previous novels and a collection of stories. He was born in Australia in 1943 and now lives in New York City.

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA; Virago/Little Brown, UK)
The Great Fire is the story of two World War II veterans and friends, an English war hero and the Australian colleague whose life he saved, and their struggle to make sense of post-war existence and their divergent lives. Aldred Leith, military hero and son of a famous novelist, has come to East Asia to observe firsthand the subject matter of a book he intends to write. There he meets Helen, the teenaged daughter of his old friend, and becomes captivated by her ability to live vicariously through literature. Despite their age difference, the two gradually are drawn to one another. But both must heal from the recent global horrors before regaining the capacity to love.

The Great Fire is Shirley Hazzard’s first published novel in more than 20 years. Born in Australia, she traveled the world during her early years, a result of her parents’ diplomatic postings. In 1947, at the age of 16, she was engaged by British intelligence to monitor the civil war in China. The Great Fire received the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction. Hazzard is the author of five other works of fiction including National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Transit of Venus and three books of nonfiction. She lives in New York.

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa, translated by Adriana Hunter
(Alfred A. Knopf, USA; Chatto and Windus, UK)
Shan Sa’s novel is set against the brutal backdrop of war-torn Manchuria in the 1930s. It chronicles the story of a spirited 16-year-old Chinese girl and a dutiful Japanese soldier in disguise whose paths cross in the occupied town square over a game of Go, the ancient Chinese board game that requires artful strategy and skill. As the game’s complexities are revealed, so are the characters' motivations - and their surprising fates.

Author Shan Sa was born in 1972 in Beijing. In 1990 she left China for France, where she studied in Paris and worked for two years with the painter Balthus. Her two previous novels were awarded the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman and Prix Cazes. This is the first of her works to be translated into English.

The Guru of Love by Samrat Upadhyay
(Houghton Mifflin, USA)
This first novel is a gripping story of a doomed love affair between an unhappy, overworked, married schoolteacher and his impoverished, ambitious young student. Set in Kathmandu in the 1990s, against a changing political landscape, Samrat Upadhyay's novel is a meditation on the complexity of modern life and the difficulty that lies in reconciling the spiritual and the sensual.

Samrat Upadhyay, born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, came to the United States at age 21. His fiction has appeared in the Best American Short Stories, and his first book of short stories – Arresting God in Kathmandu – earned him a 2001 Whiting Award. Upadhyay teaches creative writing at Indiana University.


Dancing with Strangers: Sydney 1788-1800 by Inga Clendinnen
(Text Publishing, Australia)
A study of the first years of European settlement in New South Wales, the title of this book is a metaphor for the initial contact in the late 18th century between two vastly different peoples: the British settlers and Australian Aborigines. (“The Australians and the British began their relationship,” Clendinnen writes, “by dancing together.”) At the book’s centerpiece is the vivid recreation of the events surrounding the spearing of Governor Phillip at Manly Cove in 1790. By retracing the difficulties in the way of understanding people of different cultures, the author’s stated hope is for greater tolerance and social justice.

Inga Clendinnen is also the author of Reading the Holocaust, a New York Times Best Book of the Year in 1999 and winner of the New South Wales Premier’s General History Award. Her 1999 ABC Boyer Lectures, True Stories, were published in 2000, as was her award-winning memoir Tiger’s Eye. She lectured for many years in the La Trobe University History Department, Melbourne, and now lives in Townsville, Australia.

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple
(Penguin Books, India; HarperCollins, UK; Viking, USA)
At the heart of this book is what the author calls "the Indian conquest of the European imagination." Situated at the turn of the 19th century and centered on a romance between a British officer of the East India Company and the daughter of the prime minister of an Indian city-state, the book chronicles the resulting love, betrayal, and accusations of spying – and, at the same time, challenges the theory of the "clash of civilizations" and the idea that East and West are irreconcilable. “Only bigotry, prejudice, racism, and fear drive them apart,” writes Dalrymple, “but they have met and mingled in the past and they will do so again.”

William Dalrymple is the author of the acclaimed British bestseller In Xanadu. He also wrote City of Djinns, From the Holy Mountain, and a collection of essays on India – The Age of Kali. At present, he divides his time between London and Delhi.

Out of God's Oven: Travels in a Fractured Land by Dom Moraes and Sarayu Srivatsa
(Penguin Books, India)
India is a global giant, its population second only to that of China. What happens in India in the 21st century will have a profound effect on Asia and beyond. This book is by two writers who express love for the country in strikingly different ways. Based on six years of near-constant travel across the enormous landscapes of the subcontinent, the book is an unsparing look at the fault lines running through contemporary India and an invitation to explore further.

The coauthors are poet and journalist Dom Moraes and editor and journalist Sarayu Srivatsa. Moraes has published the award-winning A Beginning, and nine other collections of poetry, as well as 23 prose books, including the biography Mrs. Ghandi. Srivatsa was editor of Indian Architect and Builder and published the book Where the Streets Lead in 1997. Both writers now live in Mumbai, India.

Secrets and Spies: The Harbin Files by Mara Moustafine
(Random House Australia)
First-time author Mara Moustafine was born into a Russian-Jewish enclave in Harbin, northern China. In the 1930s, the Japanese occupation of Manchuria divided her extended family. Seeking refuge, some fled to the Soviet Union but found only further danger there under Stalin. Others stayed behind to face a different set of grave dangers in China. In the late 1950s Moustafine emigrated to Australia from China with her parents. Returning to post-Soviet Russia as an adult, she sought to uncover the secrets of her past. The resulting book draws on classified police files retrieved from once closed archives in post-Soviet Russia.

Bilingual in Russian and English, Moustafine holds a Masters in International Relations from the Australian National University. She has worked as a diplomat, intelligence analyst, journalist, and senior business executive in Australia and Asia.

Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
(University of Chicago Press)
A project that began life as a study of cherry blossom viewing became something author Ohunuki-Tierney never expected: a study of the way the symbolism of cherry blossoms was manipulated by the state in the Japanese kamikaze (tokkotai) operations in the closing days of World War II. The author admits she became obsessed by the question: why did they do it? "They" are the almost 1,000 highly educated "student soldier" volunteers who plunged to their deaths in kamikaze missions – even though Japan was losing the war. "Why" takes the reader into the diaries and letters of these young men (many never before published in English) and moves into a fascinating reflection on symbolic communication, nationalism, and the ramifications of totalitarian ideologies.

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney is the William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is the author of a number of books in English and Japanese, most recently Rice as Self: Japanese Identities Through Time; The Monkey as Mirror: Symbolic Transformations in Japanese History and Ritual; and Illness and Culture in Contemporary Japan.


Media Contacts:
United States: 
Ellen Ryder, Ellen Ryder Communications, New York. 
Phone  (1) 212.226.6563,
Fax  (1) 212.274-8417,

United Kingdom and India: 
Dotti Irving, Colman Getty Public Relations
Phone (44) 020.7.631.2666
Fax (44) 020.7631.2699

Australia, Canada and elsewhere:
Jeannine Cuevas, Prize Manager
Phone (1) 415.777.1628
Fax (1) 415.777.1646


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