Chinese author scoops top prize

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The Independent Online

The Chinese author Jiang Rong beat four other shortlisted Asian writers to become the first winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize for his best-selling novel "The Wolf Totem."

The US$100,000 literary award is newly established to recognize the region's best literature that has not yet been published in English.

Jiang's "Wolf Totem," first published in Chinese, is about the struggle of life during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution and draws on Jiang's personal experience in the Mongolian grasslands.

The English edition of the book is scheduled for publication in March next year.

Jiang, born in 1946, spent 11 years living with nomadic communities in the Chinese border grassland region.

The Beijing-based writer was not able to receive the award in person at a ceremony held in Hong Kong Saturday night because of ill health. But in a statement, Jiang said he was thrilled and honored that his Chinese story caught the attention of the judges.

"I spent 30 years thinking, and six years writing, 'Wolf Totem.' During that process, I hoped to write a story that would appeal to the Chinese sensibility," rong>Jiangrong> said.

Adrienne Clarkson, who led a panel of three judges, hailed "Wolf Totem" as a "panoramic novel" of life in the Mongolian grasslands during the Cultural Revolution period.

"The slowly developing narrative is rendered in vivid detail and has a powerful cumulative effect," the former governor general of Canada said in a statement.

The four other writers shortlisted for the prize were Xu Xi of Hong Kong, Jose Dalisay Jr. of the Philippines, Indian author Reeti Gadekar, and Nu Nu Yi Inwa from Myanmar.

The annual prize is being sponsored by the London-based financial services company Man Group.