The SEA Write 2010 award will take place at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok on November 5, with HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presiding at the awards dinner and presentation ceremony.
As usual, a prominent writer has been invited as the keynote speaker. Taking his place at the podium this year will be Scottish writer Willam Dalrymple, a multiple-award winning historian and travel writer, as well as a distinguished broadcaster, critic, art historian, foreign correspondent and co-director of Asia's largest literary festival.
A Cambridge history graduate, Dalrymple has lived in Delhi on and off for the last 25 years. His interests include India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Mughal rule, the Muslim world, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jains and early Eastern Christianity. All of his six books have won major literary prizes, as have his radio and television documentaries. His first three were travel books based on his journeys in the Middle East, India and Central Asia.
More recently, Dalrymple has published a book of essays about South Asia, and two award winning histories of the interaction between the British and the Mughals between the 18th and mid-19th centuries.
He is a regular contributor to "The New York Review of Books", The Guardian, The New Statesman, The New Yorker and Time magazine.
His latest book, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, was published by Bloomsbury, and went to the No. 1 slot in the Indian non-fiction section best-seller list.
He is now beginning work on a history of the First Afghan War (1839 to 1842), and curating a major show of the late Mughal and Company School painting of Delhi for the Asia Society in New York, set to open in January 2012.
The winners of the 2010 SEA Write award who will be feted at the awards dinner are:
- WIJAYA - BRUNEI
Wijaya is the pen name of Yang Berhormat Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama Dr Haji Awang Mohd. Jamil Al-Sufri bin Begawan Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Seri Paduka Haji Awang Umar.
Yang Berhormat Pehin is a prominent figure in the fields of education, literature, history, culture and religion in Brunei Darussalam. He started writing in the '40s and is interested in history, literature, language, culture and education. He has produced few books in many fields. Renungan is Yang Berhormat Pehin's first anthology of poems.
- AFRIZAL MALNA - INDONESIA
Malna grew to be a poet and cultural worker, dedicated in his arts. He has participated in many collaborative avant-garde arts and performance. His main domain, however, is poetry. In the '80s he was known as the proponent of "dark" poetry, a term used to describe the complex and innovative style of his art.
- DARA KANLAYA - LAOS
Douangchampa is the pen name of Dara Kanlaya, 72, author of some 60 short stories, over 90 poems, seven novels, and a two-hour play, Boua Deng. Dara started her career as a schoolteacher and began her writing in 1958. Now retired, she keeps writing and publishing children's books, novels and poetry. Dara's writing theme mostly deals with women's issues and gender, and promotes a better living standard for women through education. She also works as curator of old palm-leaf manuscripts, and studies classic Lao literature.
- ZAEN KASTURI - MALAYSIA
Zaen writes in various genres, including Yuda (a collection of short stories), Katarsis and Iga (collections of poems), and Angin Belantara (novel). Zaen is currently the new voice in the local literary scene who gives life to a fast forgotten, easily ignored discipline (literature).
- MARJORIE EVASCO - THE PHILIPPINES
Evasco's published works in poetry and biography are included in the canon of Philippine Literature. The Manila Critics Circle gave National Book Awards to all her five books: Dreamweavers; Ochre Tones: Poems in English and Cebuano; Six Women Poets: Inter/Views; A Life Shaped by Music; and Ani: The Life & Art of Hermogena Borja Lungay (2006).
- JOHAR BIN BUANG - SINGAPORE
Known by his pseudonym, H.B. Johar, attributes his interest and inspiration to write Sufic poems in the early '80s to his religious teacher, Syekh Muhammad Thaha Al-Muhammadi, who prayed for him.
- ZAKARIYA AMATAYA - THAILAND
Zakariya was born in Narathiwat province. He then spent five years in central India studying Islamic Sciences, Arabic Language and Literature at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama College before returning home to study Comparative Religion at Mahidol University.
He initially discovered his passion for poetry during his years in India. During his junior year, his writing on free verse poetry had started to flourish when he took courses in Classic, Mediaeval and Contemporary Arabic Literature. Zakariya wanted to become a "bridge" between different cultures and languages.
- NGUYEN NGAT ANH - VIETNAM
Nguyen Nhat Anh is a Vietnamese author of incisive stories for both teenagers and adults. He is also a teacher, a poet and a journalist. He is regarded as one of the most successful writers for teens. His most well known novel, Kinh van hoa (Kaleidoscope), which contains 54 volumes, has recently been made into four drama series of the same name.