Murakami, Couto chosen for Neustadt Prize, ups chances for Nobel

The nine-nominee shortlist for the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature has been announced, with Nobel Prize favourite Hakuri Murakami and Camöes Prize winner Mia Couto in the mix.

The Neustadt Prize is the only one of its kind based in the US; poets, playwrights and novelists are considered equally eligible for the biennial award.

Like the Nobel Prize in Literature, the US$50,000 (RM150,000) Neustadt is awarded to a living author in recognition of their literary achievement; the Neustadt is open to authors writing in any language, as long as a representative work is available in English.

Though the $50,000 prize, certainly a significant sum, is dwarfed by the US$1.1m Nobel Prize, the Neustadt makes much of its other associations with the otherwise inscrutable Nobel.

Four previous Neustadt Laureates have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, as have a total of 18 shortlist nominees, most recently exemplified by 1998 Neustadt candidate and 2012 Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan.

Last year's Neustadt was awarded to Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry, author of "Such a Long Journey," "Family Matters," and several short story collections.

Established in 1970, the prize is awarded every even-numbered year, with its jury selected by the executive director of literary journal "World Literature Today." The 2014 prize will be announced in fall 2014.

Murakami shortlisted for Neustadt Prize. - AFP pic, July 20, 2013.Murakami shortlisted for Neustadt Prize. - AFP pic, July 20, 2013.Candidates for the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature
César Aira - "How I Became a Nun" 
Argentinian writer and translator. Also known for "The Hare" (La liebre), re-published in English this June, and "Emma, the Captive" (Ema la cautiva).

Mia Couto - "Sleepwalking Land"
Mozambican author. Won the Camöes Prize in May.

Duong Thu Huong - "No Man's Land"
Vietnamese author and activist, now in Paris. Won the Prix Femina three times.

Edward P. Jones - "All Aunt Haga's Children"
American author. Won the Pulitzer for "The Known World"; is the first American male Neustadt candidate.

Ilya Kaminsky - "Dancing in Odessa"
Ukranian-born, now American poet. Won multiple awards for "Dancing" including the Whiting Writer's Award.

Chang-rae Lee - "The Surrendered"
South Korean-born, now American novelist and Princeton professor. "The Surrendered" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2011.

Edouard Maunick - "Mandela, Dead and Alive"
Mauritian poet. Won the Grand Prix de la Francophonie in 2003.

Haruki Murakami - "The Elephant Vanishes"
Japanese author of "Kafka on the Shore," "1Q84." Eternal speculation surrounds his Nobel Prize chances.

Ghassan Zaqtan - "Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me"
Palestinian poet and novelist. "Like a Straw Bird" won the Griffin Poetry Prize in June. – July 20, 2013.


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