Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Southeast Asian and South Pacific Region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize

The Chair, Paul Sharrad writes:

As the Chair of the Southeast Asian and South Pacific Region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, I’d like to introduce myself to you and let you know about upcoming events connected with this year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is a prestigious international recognition of new and established writers from across the English- speaking Commonwealth. It is run by the Commonwealth Foundation, London with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation and chaired by Nicholas Hasluck AM. This is the 25th year the Prize has been run, and this year there is a special focus in literacy programs for women to coincide with this year’s Commonwealth Day focus on the role of women.

The Commonwealth Writers Prize has launched careers and confirmed the international standing of such now famous names as Peter Carey, J.M.
Coetzee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Christos Tsiolkas, Kate Grenville, Lloyd Jones, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Vikram Seth and Janet Frame.

The Prize has looked at more than 80 novels and collections of short stories published in 2010 in the region. It is divided into two categories – the Best Book for 2010 and the Best First Book. There will be 6 writers short-listed in each category.

The writers hail mainly from Australia and New Zealand. We also have several books each year from Singapore and Malaysia and sometimes from the Pacific. The winning Best Book for the South East Asia and Pacific region last year was Albert Wendt’s ‘The Adventures of Vela’, an epic verse novel from Samoa.

We will release the names and titles of the regional shortlist on February 10.

After that date I can offer you more information about the writers and the books short-listed. All the books on the short list are fantastic – they address many issues that are of wide public interest. The aim of the Prize is to expose groundbreaking social or political realities, and to celebrate humankind in all its diversity.

After the announcement of the short lists on February 10 we will have some short listed writers available for interview. In addition, last year’s overall Best First Book winner Glenda Guest (‘Siddon Rock’) has agreed to make herself available for comment/interview on the experience of being awarded the prize, and its effect on her as a writer.

The next stage is the announcement of the regional winners. We will be holding a special event on March 2 at the Macquarie Group Offices in to announce the Regional winners. We will be sending you an invitation.

The Regional winners of the Best First Book and Best Book prizes will be selected from more than eighty titles by writers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. They will be announced for International Book Day on March 3.

The two regional winners will then be judged by a Pan-Commonwealth panel against winners from the three other regions – Africa, Europe and South Asia and The Caribbean and Canada – during the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May.

The regional judging for the Prize will remain based at the University of Wollongong (where I am an academic) for the next round in 2011-12.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (details below) or my assistant, Josh Mei-Ling Dubrau, if we can be of further assistance.

For more information about the Commonwealth Writers Prize please
consult their website:


Assoc. Prof. Paul Sharrad
English/Arts- University of Wollongong
Wollongong 2522

ph: 61-(0)2- 42214757
mob: 61-(0)428-790-378

Josh Mei-Ling Dubrau
0432 410 179

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