International Literary News

By David Varno

This Friday, the writers shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing will read from their nominated short stories at the Royal Over-Seas League in London at 7pm, as part of a lead-up to the winner announcement later in July. The writers will also read at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on Sunday, and participate in a seminar at the Institute for English Studies, next Wednesday. The shortlist includes Mamle Kabu (Ghana), Parselelo Kantai (Kenya), Alistair Morgan (South Africa), EC Osondu (Nigeria), Mukoma wa Ngugi (Kenya). See the prize’s website for more information, as well as links to the nominated stories.

Also in July, the semi-annual Akutagawa Prize for fiction will be awarded to an author whose work has appeared in a magazine or newspaper. Named after the author Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, it is the country’s most prestigious literary awary, and aside from an award of 1 million yen, it is probably the only literary honor to include a pocket watch. Comprehensive list of Japanese Literary Awards and results here.

And stay tuned for news on the long-list announcement for the 2009 Booker-Open Russia LIterary Prize. Some may remember 2002 short-listed candidate Vladimir Sorokin’s Blue Lard charged as obscene, following accusations by the pro-Putin youth group Walking Together. Moscow city prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.

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In a recent interview with Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Barack Obama revealed his affinity for Pakistani culture, particularly Urdu poetry. Politico has more on the story, as well as a brief history of the poetry form, which uses one of the two official languages of Pakistan and has been around for centuries, following themes of courtly love and using the ghazal form. Mirza Ghalib, from the 19th Century, is perhaps the best known Urdu poet.


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