November 2, 2011 by markstani
The longlist for this year’s MAN Asian Literary Prize looks strong and varied. It includes books from Japan, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Bangladesh. Here are the opening paragraphs to each of the longlistees. Various reviews will follow in due course.
THE WANDERING FALCON by Jamil Ahmad (Penguin India/Hamish Hamilton)
In the tangle of crumbling, weather-beaten and broken hills, where the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan meet, is a military outpost manned by about two score soldiers.
THE GOOD MUSLIM by Tahmima Anam (Penguin India/Hamish Hamilton)
Eight days after the end of the war, Sohail Haque stands in a field of dying mustard. The petals of the mustard flower, dried to dust, tickle his nose and remind him of the scent of meat, which he has not tasted in several months.
REBIRTH by Jahnavi Barua (Penguin India)
You certainly took your time to show up. Year after year, we waited, your father and I, nerves jangling… I never gave up on you, I want you to know that.
THE SLY COMPANY OF PEOPLE WHO CARE by Rahul Bhattacharya (Pan Macmillan/Picador)
Life, as we know, is a living, shrinking affair, and somewhere down the line I became taken with the idea that man and his world should be renewed on a daily basis.
THE COLONEL by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (Haus Publishing)
I’d better put my cigarette out first…
This was perhaps the twentieth butt that he had stubbed out since nightfall. He was feeling suffocated and he had smoked so much that he had lost all sense of taste. The cracked pane in front of him had steamed up. It was unusually quiet.
RIVER OF SMOKE by Amitav Ghosh (Penguin India/Hamish Hamilton)
Deeti’s shrine was hidden in a cliff, in a far corner of Mauritius, where the island’s western and southern shorelines collide to form the wind-whipped dome of the Morne Brabant.
IQ84 by Haruki Murakami (Harvill Secker)
The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janacek’s Sinfonietta – probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either.
THE FOLDED EARTH by Anuradha Roy (Quercus/Maclehose Press/Hachette India)
The girl came at the same hour, summer or winter. Every morning, I heard her approach. Plastic slippers, the clink of steel on stone. And then her footsteps, receding. That morning she was earlier.
PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOTHER by Kyung-sook Shin (Knopf/Weidenfeld)
It’s been one week since Mom went missing.
The family is gathered at your eldest brother Hyong-chol’s house, bouncing ideas off each other. You decide to make flyers and hand them out where Mom was last seen.
THE VALLEY OF MASKS by Tarun Tejpal (HarperCollins India/Fourth Estate)
This is my story. And the story of my people.
It is not a long story. Some men would tell it in the time it takes to drink a glass of bittersweet Ferment. And then there are those who would tell it in such detail that barrels would be drained dry and they would not arrive at its end.
DREAM OF DING VILLAGE by Yan Lianke (Grove Atlantic/Constable)
The dusk settles over a day in late autumn. The sun set above the East Henan plain, a blood-red ball turning the earth and sky a deep shade of crimson. As red unfurls, slowly the dusk turns to evening. Autumn grows deeper; the cold more intense. The village streets are all empty and silent.
THE LAKE by Banana Yoshimoto (Melville House)
The first time Nakajima stayed over, I dreamed of my dead mom.
Maybe it was having him in the room that did it, after having been alone so long.