/ 17 October 2008

JM Coetzee, Murakami on list for Australian book prize

Nobel laureate JM Coetzee and Japan’s Haruki Murakami were on Friday named on the long list for the richest prize for fiction in Australia, officials said.

Recent Booker prize contender Michelle de Kretser and well-known Australian authors David Malouf and Janet Turner Hospital were also on the list for the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award worth A$110 000 ($76 244).

Indian-born Indra Sinha was nominated for Animal’s People while The Reluctant Fundamentalist earned Mohsin Hamid, who was born in Pakistan and lives in the United Kingdom, a place on the long list.

The award is for a work of fiction written by an author living in Australia or Asia, or a work primarily set Down Under or in an Asian country, and published electronically or in print.

Coetzee, who has twice won the Booker prize and who was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2003, earned his nomination for Diary of a Bad Year.

Born in South Africa, Coetzee has been living in the South Australian capital of Adelaide for some years and became an Australian citizen in 2006.

“It was a careful, thought-out decision to move at a certain stage in my life and I’m very, very happy in Adelaide,” he said recently.

The winner of the award, judged by Melbourne literary critic Peter Craven, Pakistani-born author Kamila Shamsie and the Hong Kong-based founder of the Asia Literary Review Nury Vittachi, will be announced on November 21.

Launching the award in April, Western Australia’s then premier Alan Carpenter said he hoped it could grow into an award comparable to the Booker or the Pulitzer prizes for writing.

“It is a relatively small amount of money, but in terms of literary awards around the world it is big time,” he said. – AFP