Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year

Asian Books Blog is launching its own literary award: The Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year. The inaugural winner, for the Year of the Horse, now drawing to a close, will be announced on February 18, Chinese New Year’s Eve for the Year of the Ram / Goat.

As the name suggests, Asian Books Blog tries to highlight books of particular interest in, or especially relevant to, Asia, excluding the Near West / the Middle East.  The award thus likewise highlights such books. Authors can be of any nationality, and be published anywhere, either conventionally, or through self-publication – an important route for new voices within Asia, in countries with limited publishing industries.

Books are eligible if, during the given year, in this case the Year of the Horse, they featured in Asian Books Blog in any way except as part of the round-ups of new and notable titles, or in very short notices of one variety or another.

The blog covers literary fiction, genre fiction of all genres except erotica, and narrative non-fiction. Hence books in these categories are eligible for the award. Books may be either originally written in English, or translations into English.

The shortlist has 12 books, divided into 2 categories, fiction and non-fiction. The fiction category includes 3 titles published in Asia, and 3 published beyond Asia. The non-fiction category likewise includes 3 titles published in Asia, and 3 published beyond Asia. The shortlist includes a mix of books by new and established authors, of authors from all over Asia east of the Near West, and of men and women. Books represent a variety of publishers. 

The winner will be decided by voting, with votes polled from the blog’s readers.

No money is at stake, and the winning author will not receive a non-monetary prize, either. Instead of a glass goblet, or whatever, the winning author will be invited to write, for no fee, and preferably within a month of the award being made, a guest post highlighting the work of any secular organisation promoting literacy within Asia.

If the winning title is a translation, either the translator or the author may be invited to write the guest post, depending on circumstances.

If the winning author does not want to write a guest post, or is too busy to do so, this will not mean he or she forfeits the award. 

So: the inaugural shortlist – follow the links in red to see the relevant blog posts.

Fiction published within Asia

Bamboo Heart / Ann Bennet / Monsoon, Singapore
A Madras Miasma / Brian Stoddart / Crime Wave Press, Hong Kong
The Book of Sins / Chen Xiwo, translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman / Make Do Press, Hong Kong

Fiction published beyond Asia

Emperors Once More / Duncan Jepson / Quercus, UK
The Incarnations / Susan Barker / Doubleday, USA
The Strangler Vine / M.J. Carter / Penguin, UK

Non-Fiction published within Asia

Tune in Tokyo: the Gaijin Diaries / Tim Anderson / Amazon Encore
The inaugural print edition of the Asian Review of Books / Peter Gordon (ed) / Chameleon, Hong Kong
The World War 1 in China series (collective nomination) / various authors / Penguin China.

Non-fiction published beyond Asia

Mr Selden’s Map of China / Timothy Brook / Profile, UK
Capital / Rana Dasgupta / Canongate, UK
The People’s Republic of Amnesia / Louisa Lim / OUP, UK

How to vote

You can vote by leaving a comment, by e-mailing, by tweeting to the fledgling account #asianbooksblog, or by messaging the Asian Books Blog Facebook page. If you think others in your social networking groups would be interested in voting, then please prod them to do so. Thanks. The winning title will be the one receiving the most votes. 

Books featured between now and CNY

Books featured between now and Feb 18 will be eligible for the award in the Year of the Ram / Goat.


  1. I will launch the voting with a vote for Capital by Rana Dasgupta. I loved the moving and amazing accounts of different people's experiences of life in Delhi.

  2. I would go for Chen Xiwo's Book of Sins, for the sheer audacity and pluck this writer displays. He leads his readers where few would dare, urging them to look life in the face -- even when it is at its most gross, distasteful and horrifying.

  3. Brian Stoddart, A Madras Miasma is not just, even though a gripping whodunit. The reader takes easily to the detective Le Fanu who not only finds out who killed a young British woman but who faces antagonism and rancour on the part of the colonial society in Madras after the 1st World War. His sidekick is a Muslim married to Christian woman. Very well written and full of suspense.

    UTA from Germany

  4. Brian Stoddart - A Madras Miasma. Cleverly crafted plot and excellent character development. The writing takes you to 1920's British colonial india and is redolent with all the sights, sounds and smells together with the political and social upheaval. Le Fanu solves the crime despite being bullied and stymied by his bigoted and incompetent superior(s). I really enjoyed Le Fanu and eagerly await future instalments.


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