The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, which recognizes "ground-breaking works of fiction from across the globe," has named its 2011 regional prize winners. The overall Best Book and Best First Book choices will be honored at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 21. The regional prize winners are:
Best Book: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
Best First Book: Happiness is a Four-letter Word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)
Caribbean and Canada
Best Book: Room by Emma Donoghue (Canada)
Best First Book: Bird Eat Bird by Katrina Best (Canada)
South Asia and Europe
Best Book: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoetby David Mitchell (U.K.)
Best First Book: Sabra Zoo by Mischa Hiller (U.K.)
South East Asia and Pacific
Best Book: That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott (Australia)
Best First Book: A Man Melting by Craig Cliff (New Zealand)
British author Rana Dasgupta's novel Solo won the £10,000 (US$15,485) Commonwealth Writers' prize, the Guardian reported. Judges praised Dasgupta's "innovation, ambition, courage and effortlessly elegant prose," and chair of judges Nicholas Hasluck placed the author "at the cutting edge of responding to the chaos of our times."
The best first novel prize went to Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest, who was praised by Hasluck for her innovative use of magical realism in the Australian outback.
Africa: The Double Crown by Marie Heese
The Caribbean and Canada: Galore by Michael Crummey
S. Asia and Europe: Solo by Rana Dasgupta -- Winner!
S.E. Asia and Pacific: The Adventures of Vela by Albert Wendt
Best First Book:
Africa: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Caribbean and Canada: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell
S. Asia and Europe: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
S.E. Asia and Pacific: Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest -- Winner!
Australian Christos Tsiolkas has won the £10,000 (US$15,337) 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for The Slap, "his edgily controversial novel about the consequences of hitting someone else's child," the Guardian reported. The £5,000 first book award went to Mohammed Hanif of Pakistan for A Case of Exploding Mangoes.
The Commonwealth Writers' Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, is presented annually by the Commonwealth Foundation with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation. The Prize aims to reward the best Commonwealth fiction written in English, by both established and new writers, and to take their works to a global audience, thereby increasing appreciation of and building understanding between cultures.
The Prize is fully international in its character, administration and judging. The Prize covers the Commonwealth regions of Africa, the Caribbean and Canada, Europe and South Asia and South East Asia and Pacific. It is a prize that is both regional and global.
In each of the four regions, two prizes of £1,000 are awarded: one for the Best Book and one for the Best First Book. By offering prizes of Best First Book and Best Book, not only are some of the finest writers on the planet rewarded, but new writers are encouraged to find their footing in the literary world.
The eight winners that emerge from the regional judging are announced in March and then go through to the final phase of the competition, to decide the overall Commonwealth winners for Best Book and Best First Book, with prizes of £10,000 and £5,000 respectively.
In addition, the overall winner of the Best Book Prize is customarily invited to London for an audience The Head of the Commonwealth, HM Queen Elizabeth II.
Best Book Winners 1987-2008
* 1987 - Olive Senior, Summer Lightning
* 1988 - Festus Iyayi, Heroes
* 1989 - Janet Frame, The Carpathians
* 1990 - Mordecai Richler, Solomon Gursky Was Here
* 1991 - David Malouf, The Great World
* 1992 - Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey
* 1993 - Alex Miller, The Ancestor Game
* 1994 - Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
* 1995 - Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin
* 1996 - Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
* 1997 - Earl Lovelace, Salt
* 1998 - Peter Carey, Jack Maggs
* 1999 - Murray Bail, Eucalyptus
* 2000 - John Maxwell Coetzee, Disgrace
* 2001 - Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang
* 2002 - Richard Flanagan, Gould's Book of Fish
* 2003 - Austin Clarke, The Polished Hoe
* 2004 - Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore
* 2005 - Andrea Levy, Small Island
* 2006 - Kate Grenville, The Secret River
* 2007 - Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip
* 2008 - Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes 
* 2009 - Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap
2010 - Rana Dasgupta's, Solo
Best First Book Winners 1987-2008
* 1989 - Bonnie Burnard, Women of Influence
* 1990 - John Cranna, Visitors
* 1991 - Pauline Melville, Shape-Shifter
* 1992 - Robert Antoni, Divina Trace
* 1993 - Gita Hariharan, The Thousand Faces of Night
* 1994 - Keith Oatley, The Case of Emily V
* 1995 - Adib Khan, Seasonal Adjustments
* 1996 - Vikram Chandra, Red Earth, Pouring Rain
* 1997 - Ann-Marie MacDonald, Fall on Your Knees
* 1998 - Tim Wynveen, Angel Falls
* 1999 - Kerri Sakamoto, The Electrical Field
* 2000 - Jeffrey Moore, Prisoner in a Red-Rose Chain
* 2001 - Zadie Smith, White Teeth
* 2002 - Manu Herbstein, Ama, A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade
* 2003 - Sarah Hall, Haweswater
* 2004 - Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
* 2005 - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus
* 2006 - Mark McWatt, Suspended Sentences: Fictions of Atonement
* 2007 - D. Y. Béchard, Vandal Love
* 2008 - Tahmima Anam, A Golden Age
* 2009 - Mohammed Hanif, A Case of Exploding Mangoes
2010 - Glenda Guest, Siddon Rock