Kiriyama Prize Notable Books 2005


Two extraordinary authors, both immigrants from South Asia, reveal the individual emotion and desperation that underlie political and religious conflicts

SAN FRANCISCO (March 29, 2005) – Pacific Rim Voices announces today the two winners for the ninth annual 2005 Kiriyama Prize. Nadeem Aslam’s novel, Maps for Lost Lovers, is this year’s fiction winner along with Suketu Mehta’s, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found for non-fiction.

Aslam and Mehta will share equally the U.S. $30,000 cash prize presented by Pacific Rim Voices, the independent non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating literature that contributes to greater understanding of and among the peoples and nations of the Pacific Rim and South Asia.

Eleven years in the making, Nadeem Aslam’s novel, Maps for Lost Lovers, (Faber & Faber, UK; Knopf, USA) is both a moving love story and a sophisticated murder mystery populated by fully realized characters. Set against the backdrop of a poor South Asian enclave in a British city, the story centers on Kaukab, a pious Muslim wife and mother who relies on her faith to ease her feelings of estrangement from her homeland of Pakistan and from her husband and westernized children. The murder of Kaukab’s brother-in-law and his live-in girlfriend puts in motion a year of cataclysmic change and exposes the roots of spiritual, political, racial, and interpersonal tensions that shake the community.

A review in The Observer (UK) said of Maps, “Despite the violence that lies at the heart of the novel, it is a celebration of love and life. Sights and sounds, smells and colors are not so much vivid backdrops for the narrative as structural, mood-and-texture-enhancing parts of it. Rarely does Aslam put a foot wrong. This is that rare sort of book that gives a voice to those whose voices are seldom heard.”

In a recent interview, Nadeem Aslam said, “The book can be seen as an overview of race in Britain over the past 50 years. During the writing of it I lived in various cities and towns but always within the Asian neighborhoods – the air there seemed rich with relevant stories, so much so that at times I felt that all I had to do as a writer was to provide surfaces for those stories to coalesce onto like dew on the petals of a flower.”  Aslam was born in Pakistan and now lives in London.  He is the author of one previous novel, Season of the Rainbirds, which was recognized by several British literary awards.  Maps for Lost Lovers was also longlisted for the coveted Man Booker Prize.

In Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (Penguin, India; Review/Hodder, UK; Knopf, USA), journalist Suketu Mehta returns to Bombay, the city of his birth, to find it drastically altered from the city he once knew, in large part as result of the religious massacres and violence between Hindu and Muslim populations in 1993.  To put a human face on the world’s third largest city, Mehta skillfully weaves a narrative encompassing his own experiences and impressions together with a series of personal interviews with a variety of Bombay’s citizens.  Shunning no point of view, he meets with gangsters and their victims, cops and the rich, Bollywood entertainers, and prostitutes alike.  The resulting book is a surprisingly empathetic, fascinating, and revealing group portrait. Susan Saidenberg, one of the judges for nonfiction and director of exhibitions and programs at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York said, “This big, well-written mosaic should be mandatory reading for anyone wishing to understand the giant at the heart of India, as well as every reader who wishes to gain a deeper appreciation of the religious, and political concerns that divide India and her neighbors.”

Suketu Mehta is a fiction writer and journalist based in New York.  For his fiction he has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.  His work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, Granta, Harper’s, Time, Conde Nast Traveler and The Village Voice.  He has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and he was co-writer of “Mission Kashmir,” a Bollywood movie.  He is currently working on a book for young people.

Photos of the authors and book jacket images of this year’s finalists and winners are available upon request from Stella Connell at

Along with the eventual winner, the 2005 Kiriyama Prize fiction finalists included The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa (Penguin, India and UK; WW Norton, USA), War Trash by Ha Jin (Pantheon, USA), Grace is Gone by Kelly Ana Morey (Penguin Books, New Zealand), and Seasons of the Palm by Perumal Murugan (translated by V. Geetha) (Tara Books, India; distributed by Consortium in the USA).

The other 2005 finalists for non-fiction were The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey Without Borders by Masayo Duus (translated by Peter Duus) (Princeton University Press, USA), Pol Pot: History of a Nightmare by Philip Short (John Murray, UK; Henry Holt, USA), The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea (Little, Brown, USA), and The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change by Charles Wohlforth (North Point Press/FSG, USA).

Also today, Peter Coughlan, administrator of the Prize, announced the 2005 Kiriyama Prize Notable List of 44 titles.  The list of 24 fiction and 20 non-fiction works follows the body of this release.

Prize Manager, Jeannine Stronach, noted, “The two winning books by Mehta and Aslam are both fine examples of the writing rapidly emerging from the South Asian diaspora. At a time when much of the world is focused on India, Pakistan, and the nearby Middle East, these books explore many issues and ideas that will spark a dialogue that is crucial for our times.”  Past finalists and winners include Sherman Alexie, Monica Ali, Peter Carey, Cheng Ch’ing-wen, Inga Clendinnen, Carlos Fuentes, Patricia Grace, Shirley Hazzard, Ha Jin, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Ruth Ozeki, Andrew X. Pham, Shan Sa, Kerri Sakamoto, Pascal Khoo Thwe, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and Simon Winchester.

The Kiriyama Prize is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding books that promote greater understanding of and among the nations of the Pacific Rim and of South Asia. Authors from anywhere in the world are eligible, provided that their work is written in English or translated into English, and that it relates to the nations of the Pacific Rim or South Asia in a significant way.

Pacific Rim Voices, sponsor of the Kiriyama Prize, continues to develop a family of projects celebrating literature from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia.

Interviews with authors and critics, capsule reviews, and a round-up of relevant news and events are all featured in the free newsletter WaterBridge Review available online and by email upon request.  Recognizing the importance of nurturing among young people an appreciation and respect for other cultures, Pacific Rim Voices also sponsors, a website offering a lively, colorful presentation of children’s and young adults’ books and featuring reviews, interviews, and a virtual gallery of picture book illustrations.

For more information about the Kiriyama Prize and the 2005 finalists, visit or contact Jeannine Stronach, Prize Manager, at 415/777-1628 or via email

2005 Kiriyama Prize Notable Books


Hunger’s Brides by Paul Anderson (Random House, Canada)
Inheritance by Lan Samantha Chang (WW Norton, USA)
A Private Life by Ran Chen, translated by John Howard Gibbon (Columbia University Press, USA)
Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Penguin Books, India; Abacus Books, UK; Doubleday, USA)
Brahma’s Dream by Shree Ghatage (Doubleday, Canada)
Tu by Patricia Grace (Penguin Books, New Zealand)
Pearl King and Other Poems by Catherine Greenwood (Brick Books, Canada)
Village of Stone by Xiaolu Guo, translated by Cindy Carter (Chatto & Windus, UK)
Sadika’s Way by Hina Haq (Academy Chicago Publishers, USA)
Whanau II by Witi Ihimaera (Reed Publishing NZ, Ltd., New Zealand)
The Love Wife by Gish Jen (Alfred A. Knopf, USA)
The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew (Chatto & Windus, UK; Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA)
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, USA)*
Transmission by Hari Kunzru (Hamish Hamilton, UK; Putnam, USA)
Breaking the Tongue by Vyvyane Loh (WW Norton, USA)
Magic Seeds by V.S. Naipaul (Pan Macmillan/Picador, UK; Alfred A. Knopf, USA)
Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman (Henry Holt, USA)*
The Disinherited by Han Ong (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA)
We Should Never Meet by Aimee Phan (St. Martin’s Press, USA)
The Pearl Diver by Jeff Talarigo (Doubleday, USA)
All That is Gone by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by Willem Samuels (Hyperion, USA)
On Tuesday, When The Homeless Disappeared by Marcos McPeek Villatoro (University of Arizona Press, USA)
Blue Fingers: A Ninja’s Tale by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel (Clarion Books, USA)*
Big Breasts & Wide Hips by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt (Arcade, USA)


Plenty: Digressions on Food by Gay Bilson (Penguin Books, Australia)
Yangtze Remembered by Linda Butler (Stanford University Press, USA)
The People Next Door: Understanding Indonesia by Duncan Graham (University of West Australia Press, Australia)
Sun After Dark by Pico Iyer (Alfred A. Knopf, USA)
Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China by Ian Johnson (Pantheon Books, USA)
The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime by William Langwiesche (North Point Press, USA)
Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Tea Shop by Emma Larkin (John Murray, UK)
Before Mao: The Untold Story of Li Lisan and the Creation of the Chinese Communist Party by Patrick Lescot (HarperCollins, USA)
The Whale Road
by Deb McCutchen (Random House, New Zealand)
Genghis Khan: The Death and Resurrection
by John Man (Bantam/Transworld, UK)
Paradise in Ashes: A Guatamalan Journey of Courage, Terror, and Hope by Beatriz Manz (University of California Press, USA)
The Red Letters by Ved Mehta (Avon Publishing/Nation Books, USA)
Lilla’s Feast: A True Story of Love, War and a Passion for Food by Frances Osborne (Doubleday, UK; Ballantine, USA)
In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare (Harvill, UK; Alfred A. Knopf, USA)
The Life and Times of Mexico by Earl Shorris (Cornell University Press, USA)
Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb
by Talbot Strobe (Brookings Institution Press, USA)
Beyond the Outer Shores: The Untold Story of Ed Ricketts by Eric Enno Tam (Raincoast Books, Canada; Four Walls, Eight Windows, USA)
Invisible Palace: The True Story of a Journalist’s Murder in Java by José Manuel Tesoro (Equinox Publishing, Indonesia)
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
by Jack Weatherford (Crown Publishers, USA)
Red Land, Yellow River by Ange Zhang (Groundwood Books, Canada)*

*books for young people