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Please begin with an informative title:

The Commonwealth Writers' Prize is an ambitious prize.  It awards £10,000 for the best book winner and £5,000 for the best first book winner.  The finalists from a short list of 48, 12 in each geographical area, have been announced.  The award winners will be announced in Sydney in May.  The 8 selected finalists from each geographical area are listed at the end of the diary.  In this diary, I once again link each of the 12 shortlisted for the subject area of this diary.   Six best books and six best first books, are linked with either a review or the author's web site.  I try to give a short sentence to let you know what the book is about.

I wanted to diary the Commonwealth Writer's Award because the short list from which the finalists are chosen is announced in advance.  I don't always agree with the winners of awards, but there is always something worthwhile in the finalists considered for everyone.  The also ran's interest me.   Take the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for instance.  Both Catch 22 and The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor came out.  I find it interesting that Catch 22 lost to The Edge of Sadness.

Intro

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South East Asia and Pacific Best Book:


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Reading Madame Bovary by Amanda Lohrey (Australia)


Reading Madame Bovary is Lohrey's first collection of short stories.  Link to audio of interview with Amanda Lohrey.  Link to a review of the short story collection.
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(finalist)That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott (Australia)


  Link to audio interview of Kim Scott.  "With the character of Bobby, Scott plays with time and space, death and resurrection, weaving cross-cultural ideas through the narrative so that the reader is not quite sure how Bobby-the-Tourist-Guide fits into any modern chronology of events.  In the end it doesn’t matter.  The reader is shaped by the story. " from a review
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Time’s Long Ruin by Stephen Orr (Australia)


"One of the most terrible of Australian lost child stories was the never explained disappearance – on a hot Australia Day from Glenelg Beach in Adelaide in 1966 – of the three Beaumont children, Jane, Arnna and Grant. In his troubling and compelling fictional reworking of this mystery, Time's Long Ruin, Stephen Orr moves the events six years earlier and gives us the unsupervised Riley kids – Janice, Anna and Gavin. His narrator is their club-footed neighbour, Henry Page, for whom they were "my three best friends, my only friends really". Nearly 50 years later he lives in the same house. There he composes this melancholy retrospect on events that were the more ravaging for being unexplained."  from a book review
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Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones (New Zealand)


"The first chapter had me boggled. Then second had me hooked on the writing style. By the ninth chapter, I was head over heels. I had not yet come across the form of narration used in this book. The story of the protagonist is told through clips from various individuals who had crossed her path. The story comes across somewhat choppy at first, leaving the reader craving for more information. However, the story fills in. I was never frustrated for lack of information, but rather drawn further in and made more curious."from a personal blog
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Notorious by Roberta Lowing (Australia)

"Over the next 120 years, everyone who sees the diary will want it. Most will do anything to posses it."  from a review by Adrian Weston, Literary Agent.

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Gifted by Patrick Evans (New Zealand)

"They were 16 months between 1955 and 1956. Frank Sargeson had invited Janet Frame to move into the ex-army hut at the bottom of his garden, providing the former mental health patient with a roof over her head, food on the table and the freedom to write."  from a review  If you don't know Janet Frame you are in for a treat.  
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South East Asia and Pacific Best First Book:

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21 Immortals by Rozlan Mohd Noor (Malaysia)

"21 Immortals: Inspector Mislan and the Yee Sang Murders is an explosive debut from the quietly talented Rozlan Mohd Noor, an ex-police officer, which explains why he knows so much about police work and inside stories. This is a true Malaysian high-tech crime thriller with good cops, bad cops (and badder cops) and triad members, with insights into the workings of the local CSI, and forays into the world of hackers and their viruses, sleeper programs, trojans, ulat, spybots, hound dogs and their link to crime, including murder.  from the a sale page
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(finalist)
A Man Melting by Craig Cliff (New Zealand)


A short story collection.  Author's web page
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The Graphologist’s Apprentice by Whiti Hereaka (New Zealand)


Well-crafted psychological study "In her desperation, January invades the life of Mae, following up a card she sees tacked to a supermarket notice board.

She pushes to become Mae's apprentice, to learn the art of reading character through handwriting, but instead of developing the empathy that Mae thinks essential to the art, January misuses the graphological knowledge and incorporates it into her fantasy affair. "

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The Body in the Clouds by Ashley Hay (Australia)


Ashley Hay Web page  "'The Weekend Australian called it
"a gorgeous, Fabergé egg of a book, enamelled with literary resonances and rhyming symbols, which we will still be reading decades from now". "
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Traitor by Stephen Daisley (Australia/New Zealand)


Review in David Whish-Wilson's blog "The main character in Stephen Daisley's new novel, Traitor, is one such 'criminal'. He is a naive young man from rural New Zealand. His first experience of life outside of the garrison, and the theatre of war, where he achieves some distinction, is when he meets a Turkish doctor, who is treating an Australian soldier on a Gallipoli ridge, during a battle. David isn't sure what to do. Shoot the Turk? Help him? A naval shell makes the decision for him, and the explosion sends them both to the same military hospital."

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A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill (Australia)

Sulari Gentill's web page  A story lover's story.  ..tells stories...it's outrageous...she just makes things up... -- Be sure to scroll down and read the quips by the portraits.

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Africa,
--The Memory of Love
--Happiness is a Four-Letter Word

Canada and Caribbean,
--Room
--Bird Eat Bird

South Asia and Europe,
--The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
--Sabra Zoo

South East Asia and Pacific.
--That Deadman Dance
--A Man Melting

Extended (Optional)

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