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FOR RELEASE ON: February 27, 2007

Authors from Canada, China, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States will vie for this year's Prize

SAN FRANCISCO (February 27, 2007) - Pacific Rim Voices announces today the 10 finalists for the 11th annual Kiriyama Prize.  Two winners, one for fiction and one for nonfiction, will be named on March 27, 2007. The winners will share equally the
US $30,000 cash award.

About the fiction finalists

India in the 1980s, at the beginning of the Nepalese movement for an independent state, is the tumultuous backdrop for Kiran Desai's richly textured, Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Inheritance of Loss.  Chinese dissident author Ma Jian's slender but powerful book of stories set in Tibet, Stick Out Your Tongue, follows the author's earlier Kiriyama Prize nomination for the nonfiction memoir Red Dust (2001), making Ma Jian the second author (following Luis Alberto Urrea) to be recognized by the Prize judges for both fiction and nonfiction.  World-class author and Japanese icon Haruki Murakami dishes out 24 surreal, complex, and often very funny short stories in his collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.  In Canadian author Madeleine Thien's intricately and intelligently constructed first novel Certainty, a producer of radio documentaries in Vancouver unravels the mystery of her parents’ past in Asia.  In the darkly beautiful novel Behold the Many, seasoned author and brilliant linguistic stylist Lois-Ann Yamanaka gives us the story of three outcast sisters in turn-of-the-century Hawai'i.

About the nonfiction finalists

Abigail Friedman
's The Haiku Apprentice offers haiku-like, fleeting, but significant glimpses at Japanese culture in a lovingly published volume from Stone Bridge Press.  Another small press title gracing the nonfiction shortlist is Blonde Indian, the moving memoir of Ernestine Hayes, who grew up in a Tlingit community in Alaska.  The New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea, co-authored by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, chronicles mountaineer Mortenson's adventurous efforts to build a school for a small village inhabited by the Balti (an Islamic ethnic group) in a remote corner of Pakistan.  The great granddaughter of famed naturalist Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel, is a finalist for her Tigers in Red Weather—a paean to the charismatic tiger, a plea to save them from extinction, and a fascinating look at different cultures' relationship to the animal.  And finally, journalist John Pomfret's thoughtful Chinese Lessons gives voice to the author's classmates during his studies as a foreign exchange student at Nanjing University and follows the students' stories from the Cultural Revolution of the '60s to the present day.

Jeannine Stronach, Prize Manager, commented,  "This year's shortlists present a particularly interesting blend of 'insider' and 'outsider' voices.  For example, in fiction our judges chose Haruki Murakami, whose name is synonymous with modern literature from Japan; Ma Jian, whose stories about his homeland of China are so powerful they were banned in that country; and Lois-Ann Yamanaka, whose use of the Hawai'i Creole language she grew up speaking has often put her at the center of discussions about the unbreakable link between language and culture.  On the nonfiction side, one is struck by the fact that all of the authors save Ernestine Hayes, are 'visitors' to the cultures they write about—and yet Friedman, Mortenson, Padel, and Pomfret, all represent so admirably the crucial quest to understand 'the other' that is at the heart of the Kiriyama Prize.  Read as a group, the 10 books on this year's shortlists present a rich chorus of perspectives that we hope readers everywhere will listen to intently and discuss widely."

Since winning the Kiriyama Prize, last year's fiction winner, Luis Alberto Urrea'sThe Hummingbird's Daughter (Little, Brown & Co.), was chosen as the "One Book" for San Francisco's One City One Book program, administered by the San Francisco Public Library.  Last year's nonfiction winner was Piers Vitebsky's The Reindeer People: Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia (Houghton Mifflin).  Other past finalists and winners of the Kiriyama Prize include Sherman Alexie, Monica Ali, Peter Carey, Cheng Ch'ing-wen, Inga Clendinnen, Carlos Fuentes, Patricia Grace, Shirley Hazzard, Ha Jin, Suketu Mehta, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Ruth Ozeki, Andrew X. Pham, Elena Poniatowska, Shan Sa, Kerri Sakamoto, Pascal Khoo Thwe, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Simon Winchester, and Tim Winton.

The Kiriyama Prize is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding books that promote greater understanding of and among the nations of the Pacific Rim and of South Asia. Authors from anywhere in the world are eligible.  Eligible books will be written in English or translated into English from any other language, and must be published in the US or Canada.

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. It sponsors, a website featuring reviews of many of the books that are entered for the Prize together with author interviews and other resources.  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 books for young readers.

Publisher and author information and translation credits follow below.

For more information about Pacific Rim Voices, the Kiriyama Prize, and the 2007 finalists, visit, or contact Jeannine Stronach, Prize Manager, at 415/777-1628 or via email

The 2007 Kiriyama Prize Finalists


The Haiku Apprentice Abigail Friedman (Stone Bridge Press)

Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir Ernestine Hayes (University of Arizona Press)

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Viking)

Tigers in Red Weather: A Quest for the Last Wild TigersRuth Padel (Walker & Company)

Chinese Lessons: An American, His Classmates, and the Story of the New China John Pomfret (Henry Holt)


Kirin Desai The Inheritance of Loss (Grove Atlantic)

Haruki Murakami (Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin translators) Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Alfred A. Knopf)

Ma Jian (Flora Drew translator) Stick Out Your Tongue (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Madeleine Thien Certainty (McClelland & Stewart, Canada; Little, Brown, USA)

Lois-Ann Yamanaka Behold the Many (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Picador)

(end of release)



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