The Kiriyama PrizeCelebrating Literary Voices of the Pacific Rim
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Contact: Jeannine Cuevas Stronach
Tel. (415) 777-1628

Authors from Australia, China, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and the US
will vie for this year's Prize

SAN FRANCISCO (February 26, 2008) - Pacific Rim Voices announces today the 10 finalists for the 12th annual Kiriyama Prize.  Two winners, one for fiction and one for nonfiction, will be named on April 1, 2008.  The winners will share equally the US $30,000 cash award.  If a winning book is a translated work, the translator will receive $5,000 of the winnings and the author $10,000.

This year's Kiriyama Prize fiction shortlist highlights the international character of the Prize with works by authors from Australia, China, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and the United States.  The fiction finalists are: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Knopf Canada and The Dial Press, USA); The Complete Stories by David Malouf (Pantheon); The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (Houghton Mifflin); Mosquito by Roma Tearne (HarperCollins Canada; and forthcoming from Europa Editions, USA); and I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen, translated by Julia Lovell (Columbia University Press/hardcover eidtion; Penguin Books USA, paperback).

The five nonfiction finalists present accounts that are both personal and universal, both contemporary and historical, reflecting the variety of intriguing nonfiction entered for the Prize this year.  The nonfiction finalists are: The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam by Tom Bissell (Pantheon); East Wind Melts the Ice by Liza Dalby (University of California Press); India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha (Ecco/HarperCollins); The Talented Women of the Zhang Family by Susan Mann (University of California Press); and The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific by Julia Whitty (Houghton Mifflin, USA).

The Prize Judges' citations of each book follow the body of this release. 

Last year's nonfiction winner, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea, One Man's Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time (Penguin Books), has now enjoyed over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and continues to challenge readers to think about how to create peace in a time of war.  Other past finalists and winners of the Kiriyama Prize include Sherman Alexie, Monica Ali, Peter Carey, Kiran Desai, Carlos Fuentes, Amitav Ghosh, Shirley Hazzard, Peter Hessler, Ha Jin, Suketu Mehta, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Ruth Ozeki, Andrew X. Pham, Kerri Sakamoto, Manil Suri, Madeleine Thien, Pascal Khoo Thwe, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Simon Winchester, Tim Winton, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka.

This year's fiction judges for the Kiriyama Prize include Alan Cheuse, book critic for National Public Radio, Judy Stoffman, former book review editor of the Toronto Star, and author Madeleine Thien.  Nonfiction judges include Alma Lee, former director of the Vancouver International Writers' Festival and founding executive director of the Writers' Union of Canada, and writer Sally Ito.

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, presenter 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.

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

The Kiriyama Prize judges offered the following citations of this year's finalists:

Fiction finalists

  • Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Text Publishing, Australia; Knopf Canada; Penguin Books, New Zealand; John Murray, UK; and The Dial Press, USA): Lloyd Jones' Mister Pip is a profound meditation on the imagination, storytelling, and the rooms that literature opens up within our souls. Living on the Pacific island of Bougainville amidst the ruins of an ongoing, devastating war, young Matilda discovers a universe in Dickens' Great Expectations, as told to the village children by the mysterious outsider, Mr. Watts. Beautifully written and masterfully told, Mister Pip charts the ground where life and literature meet and flourish, and where they must ultimately divide.
  • The Complete Stories by David Malouf (Pantheon, USA): In this new collection of previously published short stories, David Malouf presents a haunting portrait of his Australian homeland.  Malouf's language is gorgeous—incantatory, Faulknerian, often biblical.  It startles and seduces, a scrim of dream which overlays a structure as carefully rendered as a poem or a piece of music.  To read Malouf is to hear the voices of old storytellers, evoking the underworlds of our psyches and our cultures.  We are lured to them by that ancient part of ourselves that dares to enter these wild places, to retrieve in some measure what we have lost.
  • The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (Houghton Mifflin, USA): In this delicious novel, Nicole Mones deftly portrays the complexity and passion of a cross-cultural love affair while introducing us to a broad expanse of Chinese history and culture, both ancient and modern.  Through the eyes of an American food writer visiting China, we are introduced to the rarefied and competitive world of Chinese haute cuisine, a subtle complex art that reached its apogee in the court of the Emperor and was nearly obliterated during Mao’s cultural revolution, when great chefs were reduced to boiling dumplings in factory canteens.
  • Mosquito by Roma Tearne (HarperCollins, Canada and UK; and forthcoming from Europa Editions, USA in June 2008): Painterly yet mysterious, historical but infused with deep myths of vision, love, estrangement, and reconciliation, Mosquito stands as a first novel of enormous appeal.  It gives us the Sri Lanka of the headlines even as it takes us into the heart of stories that lurk before history, just outside our range of sight.  It is an ambitious and affecting debut by a promising new talent.
  • I Love Dollars by Zhu Wen translated by Julia Lovell (Columbia University Press, USA): "Zhu Wen's extraordinary 'new urbanite' stories, superbly translated by Julia Lovell, portray contemporary China as a country where political and social pressures have resulted in hedonism, rootlessness, and soul-deadening nihilism.  With the painful humor and the devastating detachment of a Kafka or Borges, the author renders the struggle for survival and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing and bureaucratic society.  In I Love Dollars, Zhu Wen, whose work has long been published in the most prestigious literary magazines in China but was never before available in translation, has gifted us with his darkly comic view of the underbelly of the New China."

Nonfiction finalists

  • The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam by Tom Bissell (Pantheon, USA): Traveling in Vietnam with his father, who had fought in that country as a Marine captain, Tom Bissell examines how his family's past is intertwined with that of the Vietnam War.  Skillfully blending military history with his father's memories, Bissell provides a picture of Vietnam that is harrowing, beautiful, and at times surprisingly funny.  This book illuminates a country, its war, and those who fought on both sides in a way that makes vivid, moving, and essential reading
  • East Wind Melts the Ice by Liza Dalby (University of California Press, USA; Vintage Books, UK):  Liza Dalby's East Wind Melts the Ice is a lyrical and beautiful book comprised of inspired reflections on gardening and on ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. In keeping with the traditions she describes, Dalby structured the book according to the Chinese almanac, in which the four seasons are divided into seventy-two separate periods of five days each. The result is a both a poetic journey through time and a stunning tapestry of words and images with the delicacy and vulnerability of a garden.
  • India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha (Ecco/HarperCollins, USA; Macmillan, UK): Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi is a superb work of narrative history.  In seeking to answer the mystifying question of why there is an India at all, Guha gives a mesmerizing yet coherent account of the conflicts over caste, religion, language, class, and gender that have shaped this populous nation from the earliest days of independence to the present.  A magnificently researched and accessible history, India After Gandhi is a deeply informative and pleasurable read at every turn.
  • The Talented Women of the Zhang Family by Susan Mann (University of California Press, USA): In this refreshingly new and solidly grounded study, author Susan Mann, Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, brings into vivid focus the 19th-century lives of three generations of Chinese women from one extended family. Living in an area of southeastern China known for women's learning, the women of the Zhang family were talented in poetry, calligraphy, and other arts, which they employed in conventional as well as unconventional contexts. China scholars will value and general readers will enjoy this engagingly written history of an era as seen through women's eyes.
  • The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific by Julia Whitty (Houghton Mifflin, USA): In The Fragile Edge Julia Whitty shows us the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the grace of the creatures that live in it.  She also imparts a clear warning about the environmental dangers that threaten not only the sea but also the lives of Pacific Islanders, whose homes are endangered by the rising sea levels caused by global warming.  In prose as luminous as the ocean she describes, Whitty refocuses the reader's mind on "the essence of this extraterrestrial world."

(end of release)


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