5 Asian Authors You Should Know: The Man Asian Literary Prize Shortlist

Article excerpt

Five writers from China, Japan, and India made the cut this week when the Man Asian Literary Prize announced the shortlist for its 2010 award for the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English last year. The winner will be announced at a dinner in Hong Kong on March 17.

Five writers from China, Japan, and India made the cut this week when the Man Asian Literary Prize announced the shortlist for its 2010 award for the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English last year. The winner will be announced at a dinner in Hong Kong on March 17.

#5 Bi Feiyu, nominated for "Three Sisters"

Bi Feiyu is well known in China as a novelist and screenwriter. He grew up in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution. He once told an interviewer that as a child he had no toys - only nature. When he entered college, he says, and began reading, he was shocked by the difference between books and real life and that is what pushed him to become a novelist.

"Three Sisters" tells the stories of three daughters of a lecherous Communist Party secretary as a vehicle for exploring the difficult lives of women in Communist China in the 1970s and 80s.

#4 Manu Joseph, nominated for "Serious Men"

Manu Joseph, deputy editor and Mumbai bureau chief of Open magazine, has been a journalist for 14 years.

"Serious Men," his debut novel, is an exploration of questions of class in India. This novel tells the story of a Dalit (untouchable) secretary who works for a high-class Brahmin at Bombay's Institute of Theory and Research and invents stories about his disabled son in a desperate effort to advance socially.

#3 Tabish Khair, nominated for "The Thing About Thugs"

The Indian poet-novelist Tabish Khair was born and educated in Bihar, India, but now lives mostly in Aarhus, Denmark where he is a professor of English at the University of Aarhus. His books include "Babu Fictions" (2001) and "The Bus Stopped" (2004).

A lyrical writer whose prose is often called "poetic," Khair is also known for his reluctance to allow his work to be categorized as representative of any kind of post-colonial Indian literary tradition. ("Can I represent anyone other than myself?" he once asked an interviewer. …