Adam Ash

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bookplanet: Winner of Kiriyama Pacific Rim prize

'A novel hailed as finding "shimmering love" among the bigotries and injustices of the Asian area of an English town yesterday won a share of a £16,000 international literary prize. Maps for Lost Lovers, which took Nadeem Aslam 11 years to write, was declared in San Francisco as joint winner of the annual Kiriyama award, which aims to raise understanding of the peoples of the Pacific rim and south Asian diaspora. The novel is a combined love story and murder mystery set in a poor south Asian enclave where a local curse is "May your son marry a white woman". It centres on Kaukab, a pious Muslim woman who relies on her faith to ease her feelings of estrangement from her homeland of Pakistan and from her husband and westernised children. It dramatises both white and Asian racism and deals with arranged marriages and Muslim divorce. Aslam, 39, who won literary awards for his first novel Season of the Rainbirds, is the son of Pakistani parents who settled in Huddersfield in the 1980s. He has said that he lived on prize money and grants while writing Maps for Lost Lovers in borrowed flats in Hudders field, Edinburgh, Leicester and Reading. It got him longlisted for last year's Booker prize - and for the Literary Review's bad sex award. He said in a recent interview: "The book can be seen as an overview of race in Britain over the past 50 years. During the writing of it, I lived in various cities and towns but always within the Asian neighbourhoods. The air there seemed rich with relevant stories, so much so that at times I felt that all I had to do as a writer was to provide surfaces for those stories to coalesce onto like dew on the petals of a flower." Full stories here and here.


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