Kim Thuy among fi­nal­ists for New Academy Prize in Lit­er­a­ture

The Niagara Falls Review - - Arts & Life - UGO GIGUERE

MON­TREAL — A Que­bec writer is among the four fi­nal­ists for the New Academy Prize in Lit­er­a­ture.

Au­thor Kim Thuy has joined Maryse Conde, Neil Gaiman and Haruki Mu­rakami on the short list for the award.

The tem­po­rary writ­ing ac­co­lade was in­tro­duced only for this year in the wake of a de­ci­sion in May by the Swedish Academy, which awards the No­bel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture, to forgo the hon­our in 2018 amid a scan­dal in­volv­ing sex abuse and fi­nan­cial crimes.

A list of can­di­dates was cre­ated based on the choices of Swedish li­brar­i­ans, with the 47 writ­ers sub­mit­ted to a pop­u­lar vote.

The pub­lic elected the four fi­nal­ists and the win­ner will be an­nounced Oct. 12.

Thuy says she’s hon­oured by the nom­i­na­tion but the Viet­namese-born writer doesn’t in­tend to free up her sched­ule on Dec. 9, the date of the prize cer­e­mony.

She eval­u­ates her chances of win­ning at “less than zero” when stacked up against es­tab­lished, vet­eran writ­ers.

Thuy noted she is also the youngest of the four nom­i­nees.

“I see them as cul­tural icons — vet­eran writ­ers — while I’m just at the be­gin­ning of this ad­ven­ture,” she said in an in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press. “They are thou­sands of kilo­me­tres ahead of me.”

The fi­nal­ists were in­formed by email late Tues­day but Thuy said she only looked at it closely early Wed­nes­day morn­ing af­ter an af­ter­noon and evening of tak­ing care of her fam­ily and a night out at the the­atre.

“I only re­ally un­der­stood the mean­ing of the email and that prize around 1 a.m.,” Thuy said. “It wasn’t un­til much later — six hours later.”

While it’s not the No­bel Prize, the cit­i­zen-driven hon­our is touch­ing, Thuy said.

“We were not just stunned by the de­ci­sion of the in­sti­tu­tion, we (the lit­er­ary com­mu­nity) acted,” she said. “For that rea­son, it’s much more than a lit­er­ary prize, it’s a cit­i­zen move­ment.”

See­ing her name ap­pear on the orig­i­nal list of 47 was al­ready a sur­prise.

When the pub­lic whit­tled down that list, the au­thor of nov­els “Ru,” “Vi” and “mãn” doesn’t un­der­stand how she was able to beat out in­ter­na­tional heavy­weights such as Mar­garet At­wood and J.K. Rowl­ing.

“First, I may be the only writer in the group who posted about the con­test on Face­book,” she quipped. “I have a big Viet­namese fam­ily and they had to vote for me! I do not down­play the work of the peo­ple who voted be­cause it was quite com­pli­cated. It was a com­mit­ment.”

JEAN FRAN­COIS

Kim Thuy

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