Annal: 2004 Kiriyama Prize for Nonfiction

Results of the Kiriyama Prize in the year 2004.

Book:Dancing With Strangers

Dancing With Strangers: Europeans and Australians at First Contact

Inga Clendinnen

In January 1788 the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales and a thousand British men and women encountered the people who would be their new neighbors. Dancing with Strangers tells the story of what happened between the first British settlers of Australia and the people they found living there. Inga Clendinnen offers a fresh reading of the earliest written sources, the reports, letters, and journals of the first British settlers in Australia. It reconstructs the difficult path to friendship and conciliation pursued by Arthur Phillip and the local leader ‘Bennelong’ (Baneelon); and then traces the painful destruction of that hard-won friendship. A distinguished and award-winning historian of the Spanish encounters with Aztec and Maya indians of sixteenth-century America, Clendinnen’s analysis of early cultural interactions in Australia touches broader themes of recent historical debates: the perception of the Other, the meanings of culture, and the nature of colonialism and imperialism.

Book:Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms

Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

Why did almost one thousand highly educated “student soldiers” volunteer to serve in Japan’s tokkotai (kamikaze) operations near the end of World War II, even though Japan was losing the war? In this fascinating study of the role of symbolism and aesthetics in totalitarian ideology, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney shows how the state manipulated the time-honored Japanese symbol of the cherry blossom to convince people that it was their honor to “die like beautiful falling cherry petals” for the emperor.

Drawing on diaries never before published in English, Ohnuki-Tierney describes these young men’s agonies and even defiance against the imperial ideology. Passionately devoted to cosmopolitan intellectual traditions, the pilots saw the cherry blossom not in militaristic terms, but as a symbol of the painful beauty and unresolved ambiguities of their tragically brief lives. Using Japan as an example, the author breaks new ground in the understanding of symbolic communication, nationalism, and totalitarian ideologies and their execution.

Book:Out of God's Oven

Out of God's Oven: Travels in a Fractured Land

Dom Moraes, Sarayu Srivasta

Despite all odds, it is often said, India holds together. Perhaps it does, the authors of this brilliantly perceptive examination of Indian society concede, but there are bitter truths that this uncertain success barely conceals. For, even after half a century of independence and the institution of democracy, India remains a deeply divided society, a “fractured land”. While the old inequities of caste and class persist, there are new challenges posed by the advent of extreme religious fundamentalism and an unabashedly consumerist culture.

Out of God’s Oven is an uncompromising look at the drama of contemporary India, based on the authors’ personal memories and first-hand accounts of terrible landmarks in Indian history, such as the communal riots in Gujarat, the strife in Ayodhya, Naxal violence in Bengal, terrorism in Punjab, and caste wars in Bihar. Recording the voices of several Indians, including the anonymous and the famous, the dispossessed and the privileged, the sane and the fanatical, Dom Moraes and Sarayu Srivatsa have produced a revelatory and sobering book that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Book:Secrets and Spies

Secrets and Spies: The Harbin Files

Mara Moustafine

Harbin in north China was once the heart of a vibrant Russian community of diverse cultural and political origins. But by the mid-1930s, the Japanese occupation of Manchuria drove many Russians to seek refuge elsewhere. For the thousands who returned to their motherland in the Soviet Union, it was a bitter homecoming. At the height of Stalin’s purges, they were arrested as Japanese spies. Some were shot, others sent to labour camp, few survived. Among them were members of the author’s family.

Driven by curiosity and armed with chutzpah, Mara Moustafine fronted up at the headquarters of the former KGB in post-Soviet Moscow and asked for help to discover what had happened. She got more than she bargained for. The family’s secret police files, retrieved from archives at opposite ends of Russia, revealed the horror of the purges as well as startling secrets about their lives in turbulent years in China and the Soviet Union. What was fact? What was fiction?

Written with sensitivity and humour, Secrets and Spies skilfully weaves personal and political, past and present to give an insider’s perspective on the life of ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Book:White Mughals

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

William Dalrymple

From the early sixteenth century, it was common for British colonizers in India to embarrass the Crown by “turning Turk” or “going native.” Few caused greater scandal than James Kirkpatrick, a British resident in the Court of Hyderabad, who converted to Islam and spied on the East India Company in the midst of an affair with Khair un-Nissa, the great-niece of the region’s prime minister.

White Moguls is rich with many eccentric characters, from “Hindoo Stuart,” who traveled with his own team of Brahmins, to Alexander Gardner, an American whose self-invented costume was showcased by a tartan turban with egret plumes.

A remarkable love story set in an exotic and previously unexplored world, White Moguls is full of secrets, intrigue, espionage, and religious disputes and conjures all the resonance of a great nineteenth-century novel.

Views: 664 • Modified: • Elapsed: 0.021 sec