Nadeem Aslam, the British novelist of Pakistani origin, has made it to the shortlist of this year’s Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.

This is an annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place.

This year’s judges are Imtiaz Dharker, A.L. Kennedy and Jenny Uglow.

The RSL recently announced the shortlist:

NadeemNadeem Aslam The Blind Man’s Garden (Faber)
Patrick Barkham Badgerlands (Granta)
Mark Dapin Spirit House (Tuskar Rock Press)
Tim Dee Four Fields (Jonathan Cape)
Alan Johnson This Boy (Bantam Press)
Esther Woolfson Field Notes From a Hidden City (Hamish Hamilton)

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NadeemPakistani writer Nadeem Aslam has won the Yale University’s prestigious Windham Campbell Literature Prize 2014 for his fiction works which “explore historical and political trauma with lyricism and profound compassion”.

Aslam is among the eight winners in three categories – fiction, non-fiction and drama – who will receive $150,000 each in recognition of their achievements and to support their ongoing work.

Nina Martyris reviews The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam in the LARB

BlindMansGardenAslam roots The Blind Man’s Garden in a fictional town in northern Pakistan, but the story spills over into the chaos of Afghanistan. Though written after The Wasted Vigil, the events in it prequel those of the earlier novel, which is set a few years into the war on terror. This is a looser, less honed book than its outstanding predecessor, and because it hoes the same brutal and melancholy 9/11 furrow, it lacks the freshness of the former. But it is still has the power to move and terrify.

Mohsin hamidThis year’s Singapore Writers Festival is bound to have something to satisfy every type of literary appetite: The Star

When it comes to literature, the terms “utopia” and “dystopia” are typically associated with the fantasy or science fiction genres. In an increasingly technology-saturated and borderless world, however, where what was once science fiction is now simply science, and fantasy is often rapidly transformed into reality, such delineations may no longer apply.

Rather, ideas on what makes a utopian or dystopian society have long permeated discussions on culture, national identity and government.

Hence, this year’s Singapore Writers Festival’s (SWF) theme, “Utopia/Dystopia”, seems quite astute, both from a marketing point of view and as a genuinely relevant area to explore. On a practical level, the theme allows the festival organisers to include, in what is perceived as a more “literary” event, more popular genres such as crime and fantasy. 

Michael E. Halmshaw interviews Nadeem Aslam in Guernica

NadeemNadeem Aslam: This book is about love. People always say to me that my books are very melancholy, very sad, even bleak. I am aware that I work in the tragic mode. Plenty of people don’t. They write comic novels. I am not one of them. I like to put people under pressure within a certain set of circumstances and see how that reveals their true character.