2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Regional Winners
March 13, 2008: The regional winners of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes have been announced: Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People, shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, took the Best Book Prize for the Europe and Asia region, while the regional Best First Book Prize went to Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Guardian’s First Book Award. Both books go on to contest the overall prize with regional winners from throughout the Commonwealth. Sinha was praised for his harrowing but warmly human novel, which follows a young man injured in the Bhopal disaster, for “its fiercely original, zesty style, coupled with seriousness of theme and intent.” Anam’s fictional account of the war of independence in her native Bangladesh, interwoven with her own family’s history, was praised for its evocativeness and sensitivity.
In the Africa region, Karen King-Aribisala’s The Hangman’s Game, a novel about a young woman’s investigation of her ancestral enslavement, took the Best Book Prize, while the Best First Book Prize went to Sade Adeniran’s Imagine This, the story of two young children growing up in London and Nigeria.
In the Canada and Caribbean region, Lawrence Hill was declared the winner of the Best Book Prize for The Book of Negroes (published in the U.S. as Someone Knows My Name), the true story of one woman’s journey from her village in west Africa, through slavery in South Carolina to hard-won liberation. C.S. Richardson won Best First Book with The End of the Alphabet, the story of a man who develops a rage for travel after hearing he has only weeks to live.
Steve Carroll’s The Time We Have Taken, a portrait of an eccentric community in a Melbourne suburb, won Best Book in the in the Southeast Asia and South Pacific region. Karen Foxlee’s The Anatomy of Wings, the story of a precocious 10-year-old’s search for the reasons behind her sister’s suicide, was awarded Best First Book.
The regional winners in both categories will now vie for the overall prizes, to be awarded on May 18, 2008, at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in South Africa.