VIETNAMESE-AUSTRALIAN writer Nam Le joins an impressive panel of judges for new literary award, The Folio Prize, it was announced today.
Nam Le was picked alongside authors, Michael Chabon, Sarah Hall and Pankaj Mishra on the board, which is to be chaired by poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw.
Nam Le arrived on a boat in Australia as a Vietnamese refugee. He grew up and studied in Melbourne, where he still resides. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled: The Boat, has been translated into 14 different languages and has received a number of awards.
The Folio award, which aims to equal the stature of the Man Booker Prize, has designed itself to have an international and egalitarian focus, the rules of the competition dictating that the board must have no more than three members of the same gender, three judges from the UK and two from overseas.
“I’m delighted to be chairing this prize not least because it is a prize that – unlike any other – puts first the idea of writers as readers,” Greenlaw said.
The Folio prize has been under scrutiny as critics speculate as to its affect on the dominance of the Booker prize. However, organisers of the Folio prize have insisted that there is room enough for both; pointing out that the Folio prize is open to all English-language fiction from around the world; The Booker prize, restricting itself to Commonwealth writers only.
The new award, founded by literary agent Andrew Kidd and sponsored by the Folio Society, will be open to writers regardless of form, genre or where they are from.
The inaugural winner will receive £40,000 in prize money for a work of fiction in the English language published in the UK. The winner will be announced in March 2014.