World Readers’ Award
A forward-looking new literary award is seeking the next generation of authors by changing the rules.
o The World Readers’ Award will be judged not by professors of literature but by readers.
o Authors will not have to fulfill nationality qualifications as the cultural identity of characters in their fiction makes them eligible.
o Entries are encouraged from young-at-heart people who associate reading and writing with electronic media, as well as from traditional writers.
o The prize won’t be cash and a plaque, but a contract with a good publisher.
“Everyone was fed up of book prizes where professors of literature chose books which were great reads, but only for professors of literature,” said Nury Vittachi, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Writers’ and Translators’ Association. “What about books for the rest of us?”
The idea for the innovative World Readers’ Award came from a noisy meeting of writers and translators in Bangkok last October, when participants from all over the world, including North Korea, expressed their dismay at the increasingly homogenous way prize panels made predictable choices.
A case in point was Hong Kong’s Man Asian Literary Prize which echoed its London parent, the Man Booker Prize, right down to the names on the nominations list.
So participants decided to organize a prize in which the narrow format that underpins most book awards be broken open.
“As the world becomes a more level playing field, the next JRR Tolkien or Ian Fleming will likely be a female from Asia,” said Jane Camens, executive director of the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association. “This prize gives her a chance.”
One of the most creative elements of the World Readers’ Award is the criteria for entry. While you need a US passport to win the Pulitzer, or a British or Commonwealth passport to win the Man Booker, judges of the new prize won’t consider your nationality at all. Instead, a broad cultural theme (such as “East meets West” or “the Indian subcontinent” or “the Chinese diaspora”) will be set for each contest, and the cultural ethos in your story world will qualify it for entry. The idea is to encourage the generation of writing set at least partly outside global literature’s over-used “home territories” of the US and the UK.
The news was greeted with delight by Isagani Cruz, an award-winning author from Manila. “This is a chance for unwritten and unpublished books to be read and admired,” he said. “This is also a chance for readers to tell writers that they love these books.”
The Asia-Pacific Writers’ and Translators’ Association, generally known as AP Writers, is a group of writers, translators and publishers, mostly based in Asia and Australia. Its board includes Chinese author Xu Xi and Korean writer Shirley Young-Eun Lee. Its roster of Honorary Fellows includes JM Coetzee, Pankaj Mishra and Amitav Ghosh.
* Full details of the prize will be released in October this year. An initial outline of the prize is available at www.worldreadersaward.com, as is a sign-up list for people who want to be informed of the launch.
The writers association can be contacted through www.apwriters.org.
FOR MORE DETAILS:
Contact: Nury Vittachi, Chair of AP Writers, Tel (852) 6656 1460, Email: email@example.com