Ateneo SOH Alumnus is first Filipino to win 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize

December 09, 2008

Filipino author and Ateneo alumnus Miguel Syjuco was the first Filipino to receive the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel “Ilustrado,” a story about a young Filipino caught within a notorious scandal spanning over the Philippine history.

The prize is a double win for Syjuco, whose “Ilustrado” also won the grand prize for the novel in this year’s Palanca awards.

In their citation The panel of judges wrote:

The shortlist for the Man Asian prize testifies to the great vitality of the novel in Asian societies undergoing hectic and unexpected transformations. In the end, we had to choose; and Ilustrado seems to us to possess formal ambition, linguistic inventiveness and sociopolitical insight in the most satisfying  measure. Brilliantly conceived, and stylishly executed, it covers a large and tumultuous historical period with seemingly effortless skill. It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour.  []

Syjuco graduated with a degree in English Literature from the Ateneo. In 2001, he went to the United States to pursue a degree in MA Creative Writing at Columbia University. At present, he is based in Montreal where he works as a copy editor at the Gazette newspaper.

During the recently concluded celebratory dinner at The Peninsula Hong Kong, Syjuco was awarded US$10,000, or almost Php 500,000.
The Man Asian Literary Prize was established in 2006 to bring greater worldwide attention to Asian writing and authors. The inaugural prize was awarded in November 2007 to Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, which was published in English to great acclaim in early 2008. Several works shortlisted and longlisted for the 2007 Prize have since been published.

This year’s judges include Adrienne Clarkson, former governor general of Canada; Nicolas Jose, writer, scholar and former cultural counselor at the Australian Embassy in China; and Pankaj Mishra, acclaimed Indian writer and thinker.