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Asia Rising: Chinese writer wins 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize

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HONG KONG — Bi Feiyu was named the winner of the prestigious prize Thursday for his novel Three Sisters, an exploration of Chinese family and village life during the Cultural Revolution.

It is the third time in the prize’s four year history that a Chinese author has won.

The judges said Three Sisters “moves seamlessly between the epic and the intimate… illuminating not only individual lives but an entire society, within a gripping tale of familial conflict and love.”

Upon accepting the award, Bi warned “we should not forget the Cultural revolution, at any time, and if we forget what happens in Three Sisters, our fate will be the same.”

The author expressed his gratitude “for the change in the direction of history… I should even like to thank myself and the ordinary people, who, like me, have conscience, dignity, courage to do good, and a passionate love of the future.”

Shortlisted writer Manu Joseph reflected on the growing ascendency of Asian literature today; “I think because a lot of Asian writers are writing in English, readers are going to be exposed to a very different point of view and more importantly, very different subjects.”

The shortlist contenders for The Man Asian Literary Prize  included Manu Joseph’s Serious Men, The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair, The Changeling by Nobel prize-winner Kenzaburo Oe, and Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa.

The $30,000 cash prize includes a $5,000 award to be split between the book’s translators Sylvia Li-chun Li and Howard Goldblatt.

Bi expressed his hope that the “English reading public would now pay a little more attention to Chinese literature.”

“Twenty years ago, a lot of Chinese writers were imitating Western writers like Joyce, Kafka and Borges,” he said. “But in the last ten years, Chinese writers have entered a period of true Chinese-ness.”

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