«Novellasia»'s jury chairman, Alex Ulko, in consultation with judges from throughout Central Asia, has chosen five final winners from a short-list of 15.
Click on the authors and titles for more information.
The five winners will be translated into English and Russian, their works will be given publication priority, first as bilingual blog-novels and then as an illustrated e-book compilation; they will also receive a cash prize.
The runners-up will be published next as blog-novels in their original languages. After the runners-up, the rest of the contestants will be published throughout the remainder of 2014 and into 2015.
The choice was not in the least easy for Ulko and the rest of the jury. Those on the short-list were chosen for the freshness or sophistication of their linguistic style and the originality or professionalism of their approach. Ulko had this to say:
It was extremely difficult to choose five winners out of a hundred of entries. First this number had to be cut to 25, then to the official short-list of 15, then to eight, and then to five. As the chairman of the jury, I could have done some of this on my own, but I felt it would be wrong, not because the judgment had to be 'objective', but because there was a need for different perspectives. So, a lot of consultation happened, and as the circle of works narrowed down, I realized that we were not just searching for the 'best' literary pieces, but for a combination of stories that would represent different aspects of Central Asian prose.
Apart from submissions which did not comply with the terms and conditions of the competition, there were also incidents in which it seemed as though the writer felt the need to satisfy some external idea of 'Central Asian-ness'. I am convinced that there is absolutely no need to do this: every single piece of writing done in this region by any of its citizens by definition belongs to the rich Central Asian literary heritage. Consequently, we wanted to support those writers who demonstrated what we felt was a sincere interest in literature – not self-promotion, conformity to some primordial traditions, or the desire to shock the audience.
Also, [in the end we couldn't] judge the works purely on their 'literary' merit. We had to judge based upon everything: the plot, the language, the topic, the narrative. Facing a close choice, we also wanted to give more voice to less-known authors.
Finally, we have arrived at a combination of works which, translated into English and Russian, may tell their readers something new about Central Asia, something they could have never seen on the Discovery channel or TripAdvisor pages. The stories are different: some sad, some funny, some both. They are set in different contexts and written in different languages and styles. Yet, they somehow complement each other and, hopefully, will be appreciated by a wider [i.e., global] audience who are going to read them online or purchase them as e-books.
We are grateful to all the participants for their submissions; it has been a pleasure to read them. In recent years there have been more books from and about Central Asia, as well as more opportunities for publishing. So, do not give up; let's keep calm and carry on!
The organizing committee also wants to thank all of the participants. Stay tuned to NewEurasia's website and Facebook page when we begin publishing all of the submissions next month!
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