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CWW Book Prize 2013 - Regional Winners
Disposable People by Ezekel Alan (The Caribbean), Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (Asia), Sterile Sky by E.E. Sule (Africa), The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell (Canada and Europe) and The Last Thread by Michael Sala (The Pacific) have copped the regional prizes for the Commonwealth Book Prize 2013.
Alan’s Disposable People was the sole shortlisted work from the Caribbean and also became eligible this year because Commonwealth Writers widened the competition’s scope to include self-published and translated works. Disposable People is the latter. The novel surrounds the story of Kenneth Lovelace who, now a consultant in the United States, looks back on his life of poverty growing up in 1970s Jamaica.
On the Commonwealth Writers website, Alan, a Jamaican currently living in Japan according to the site, explains that he worried about the acceptance the novel would receive due to its being a self-published novel.
“I knew from the outset that the novel was unorthodox; because of this, and the fact that it was self-published, I worried about whether it would be accepted by a mainstream audience,” Alan says. “I am so encouraged by this recognition.”
Nigerian E. E. Sule also described the award as an important step in his career bringing much needed validation. Confessing to great excitement, he says, “I consider it a milestone in my career as a writer – that moment you think you have got a needed impetus, in fact a revelation, to perform better, to aim higher.”
“I am absolutely delighted,” said Nayomi Munaweera. “When I was writing my novel I didn’t know if I’d ever even find a publisher for it. Indeed the entire process of writing and publishing it took a decade.”
Island of a Thousand Mirrors follows two families on opposite sides of the Sri Lankan civil war. The story is, narrated by the eldest daughter of each family has been described as an exploration of Sri Lanka’s struggle to find a new beginning. “I am also incredibly grateful for the opportunity to represent Sri Lanka, a small place, but one with many stories to share with the world,” Munaweera said.
The Death of Bees is the story of two teenaged sisters struggling to hold their life together in the wake of their parents death. O’Donnell is the recipient of an Orange Screenwriting Prize (2000) who took a break from screenwriting when she moved to Los Angeles.
Australian writer and teacher Michael Sala thanked the CWW Book prize for allowing his book the opportunity to get attention from across the world. “I’ve always felt that the best writing crosses international boundaries, and that has always been my ambition with my own writing,” he said.
“To be acknowledged so early in my career is just incredibly exciting,” Sala continued. “With such diversity and talent on the shortlist, I feel honoured and humbled to be selected as a regional winner.”