New Delhi: Indian writers Jeet Thayil, Anjali Joseph and Benyamin were on Tuesday named in the Man Asian Literary Prize longlist of 15 authors which also figure Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk. The list for the $30,000 prize, considered Asia's most prestigious, was drawn from 108 published works from nine Asian countries by a jury comprising critic Maya Jaggi, Vietnamese-American novelist Monique Truong and India's Vikram Chandra.
Thayil's "Narcopolis", "Goat Days" by Benyamin and Joseph's "Another Country" will vie with Pamuk's "Silent House" among others for the award which will be announced on March 14 in Hong Kong. The shortlist will be announced on January 9.
"The far-ranging stories on our longlist draw the reader into some beautiful and some gruelling landscapes: from the glaciers of northern Pakistan to the unforgiving Saudi desert; from an affluent Istanbul seaside resort to a Bombay opium den - and further afield to Montreal and Mexico," said Maya Jaggi, the chair of judges.
"I am delighted to see that range reflected in the breadth of original languages on our list, with novels translated from Chinese, Japanese and Korean, as well as Turkish, French and Malayalam," she said.
A total of seven books appear in translation, including "Northern Girls" by Chinese author Sheng Keyi. "Narcopolis", a three-decade exploration of opium addiction, was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
"Goat Days" follows the fate of an expat worker in the Gulf who is propelled into a slave-like existence as a goat herder in the middle of the brutal Saudi desert. Joseph's "Another Country", follows a young woman through Paris, London and Bombay at the dawn of the millennium.
The 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize was won by South Korean writer Kyung-sook Shin for her novel "Please Look After Mom".
"This list testifies to the strength and variety of new writing coming out of a culturally emergent Asia. It is full of stories the world hasn't heard before and which the world needs to hear," said David Parker, executive director of the Asian Literary Prize, the organising body of the award.