It’s that time of year when the shortlist for the Man Asian Literary Prize is announced, highlighting once again the growing richness of the Asian English language literary world.

AUTHORS from India, China and Japan swept the shortlist for Asia’s top literary prize last Tuesday, with a debut novelist and Nobel Prize winner among those vying for the US$30,000 (RM92,000) award.

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We like ambition in people. In India, children at a very young age are often asked by doting relatives what they want to become when they grow up: a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a scientist, a pilot, or a business executive. Indian parents take great pride in showing off the precociousness of their offsprings when they are able to set an ambition for themselves and rattle it out with an impressive perspicacity in front of their relatives at weddings or dinner parties.

For most people, it is only a dream to be called a genius and handed a big check. But in the United States, 23 people recently received a phone call announcing that dream had come true. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation hands out “genius” fellowships each year to assist people it determines are doing exceptional work. This year’s recipients of the $500,000 “no strings attached” grant include a stone carver, a quantum astrophysicist, a jazz pianist and a high school physics teacher.

The literary fine print from South Asia represented by the likes of Fatima Bhutto, Michael Wood, Amit Chaudhuri, Mohammed Hanif, Meghnad Desai and several others is set to take Britain by storm in a festival Oct 16-30.

The 15-day celebration of South Asian writing and arts – DSC South Asian Literature Festival – will see a galaxy of authors from the sub-continent reach out to the Asian and British communities across the country to celebrate the diverse culture and literature of South Asia.

Quality translations and targeted marketing alone can help break the lingering stereotype in overseas markets of modern Chinese fiction as propaganda, literary experts say. Yang Guang reports

While world literature has found its way into China, Chinese literature is still fumbling to find its feet in the world, writer Liu Zhenyun says. He made this somber observation at a recent Chinese literature translation symposium. It gathered more than 30 Sinologists, translators and writers from 13 countries to share their experiences, problems and suggestions.

When I was asked to review Rajat Das’ debut novel (Paper Boat, Flame of the Forest) I approached the offer with skepticism. Why? I had little experience of reading a novel as long as 800 pages. Believe me, I have considered Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy many times in libraries and bookstores but that novel’s heft has always come in the way of my reading pleasure (and I prefer doorstoppers from Ikea). Man, don’t get me wrong. I love Seth, I love that Golden Gate man. What a charming writer! But I am happy having read his From Heaven Lake.