Annal: 2001 Kiriyama Prize for Fiction

Results of the Kiriyama Prize in the year 2001.

Book:Dogside Story

Dogside Story

Patricia Grace

There is conflict in the whanau. The young man Te Rua holds a ‘secret for life, the one to die with’. But he realises that if he is to acknowledge and claim his daughter, the secret will have to be told.

“The Sisters” are threatening to drag the whanau through the courts. Buy why? What is really going on?

Meanwhile, wider events are encroaching. Visitors will arrive in numbers to this East Coast site, wanting to be among the first in the world to see the new millennium. There are plans to be put into action, there’s money to be made, and there’s high drama as the millennium turns…

Like Potiki before it, Dogside Story is set in a rural Maori coastal community. The power of the land and the strength of the whanau are life-preserving forces. This rich and vivid novel, threaded with humour, presents a powerful picture of Maori in modern times.
Book:American Son

American Son: A Novel

Brian Ascalon Roley

Told with a hard-edged purity that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, American Son is the story of two Filipino brothers adrift in contemporary California. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he trains in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas’s waywardness, yet moves ever closer to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs. When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the family.

Full of the ache of being caught in a violent and alienating world, American Son is a debut novel that captures the underbelly of the modern immigrant experience.

Book:The Ash Garden

The Ash Garden

Dennis Bock

A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America…

A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family stranded in Austria…

A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon…

Lives already in motion, unsettled by war, and about to change beyond reckoning—their pasts blurred and their destinies at once defined and distorted by an inconceivable event. For that man was bound for the desert of Los Alamos, the woman unexpectedly en route to a refugee camp, the girl at Ground Zero and that plane the Enola Gay. In August of 1945, in a blinding flash, Hiroshima sees the dawning of the modern age.

With these three people, Dennis Bock transforms a familiar story—the atom bomb as a means to end worldwide slaughter—into…[more]

Book:The Death of Vishnu

The Death of Vishnu: A Novel

Manil Suri

At the opening of this masterful debut novel, Vishnu lies dying on the staircase he inhabits while his neighbors the Pathaks and the Asranis argue over who will pay for an ambulance. As the action spirals up through the floors of the apartment building we are pulled into the drama of the residents’ lives: Mr. Jalal’s obsessive search for higher meaning; Vinod Taneja’s longing for the wife he has lost; the comic elopement of Kavita Asrani, who fancies herself the heroine of a Hindi movie. Suffused with Hindu mythology, this story of one apartment building becomes a metaphor for the social and religious divisions of contemporary India, and Vishnu’s ascent of the staircase parallels the soul’s progress through the various stages of existence. As Vishnu closes in on the riddle of his own mortality, we wonder whether he might not be the god Vishnu, guardian not only of the fate of the building and its occupants, but of the entire universe.

Book:Here's to You, Jesúsa!

Here's to You, Jesúsa!

Elena Poniatowska, Deanna Heikkinen

Elena Poniatowska’s best and most accessible work, Here’s to You, Jesúsa! is a rich, sensitive retelling of the life of Jesúsa Palancares de Aguilar. Born in Oaxaca in the early 1900s, she loses her mother at a young age and lives with her father until one of his girlfriends beats and stabs her. Moved to her godmother’s house, Jesúsa serves as a maid until she reunites with her father during the Mexican Revolution and joins the army of General Jesús Carranza. In the army, Jesúsa is forced to marry another soldier who beats and abandons her. On one such occasion she is beaten so severely that it draws the attention of the general himself, who punishes her husband. After the revolution, Jesúsa finds work in Mexico City, first as a domestic, then in a series of factories, and begins her long history of run-ins with the police.

Poniatowska documents a colorful life while also providing a compelling, firsthand account of the most important events in Mexico during the twentieth century. Reprinted twenty-eight times since its original publication in 1969, Here’s to You, Jesúsa! now stands as a classic of Mexican literature.

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