A record seven titles are in competition for the Man Asian Literary Prize, with author Amitav Ghosh among a trio of Indian writers dominating the latest short list for the $30,000 US honour.
The "power and diversity" of the fiction coming from contemporary Asian writers compelled the jury to expand the finalists beyond the traditional five titles, according to judging chair Razia Iqbal.
"The judges were greatly impressed by the imaginative power of the stories now being written about rapidly changing life in worlds as diverse as the arid borderlands of Pakistan, the crowded cityscape of modern Seoul, and the opium factories of nineteenth century Canton," she said in a statement.
Three works from Indian writers, including a historical epic from past Man Booker contender Ghosh, lead the short list. Also nominated are a debut short story collection from Pakistan and three East Asian titles, including the bestselling South Korean maternal tale Please Look After Mom.
The 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize finalists, revealed in Kong Kong and London on Tuesday, are:
- Jamil Ahmad (Pakistan) for The Wandering Falcon.
- Jahnavi Barua (India) for Rebirth.
- Rahul Bhattacharya (India) for The Sly Company of People Who Care.
- Amitav Ghosh (India) for River of Smoke.
- Kyung-Sook Shin (South Korea) for Please Look After Mom.
- Yan Lianke (China) for Dream of Ding Village.
- Banana Yoshimoto (Japan) for The Lake.
The winner will be announced at an evening gala in Hong Kong on March 15.
Founded in 2007, the Man Asian Literary Prize celebrates the best work of fiction by an Asian author (written in or translated into English) during the previous calendar year. Past winners include Filipino Canadian Miguel Syjuco (Illustrado) and Chinese writers Bi Feiyu (Three Sisters), Su Tong (Boat to Redemption) and Jian Rong (Wolf Totem).