Man Asian Literary Prize

Literary Festival board ousts Vittachi amid acrimony

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 February, 2007, 12:00am

Prominent author Nury Vittachi has been kicked off the board of the Literary Festival, which he co-founded, after months of acrimony with other members over the administration of the event and the Man Asian Literary Prize, to be awarded for the first time this autumn.

The board held an extraordinary general meeting on Monday to endorse the decision, which was communicated to Vittachi on January 9.

The author claims he has been ostracised for disagreeing with the other members - in particular festival director Peter Gordon - over the make-up of the judging panel for the prize, to be awarded for works previously unpublished in English.

He said the judging panel was made up essentially of people with primarily western upbringing and ideals.

'[The board] just isn't sensitive to the issues around having westerners judging Asians,' Vittachi said. 'It is a mistake to have westerners appointed to be arbiters of quality.'

Rosemary Sayer, spokeswoman for the board, dismissed the accusation as outrageous.

'Asian writers are good enough to be judged by the best international people in the world - be they from Asia, the Middle East, the Americas or Australia.'

The Literary Festival opens on March 12, although the prize will be awarded in autumn.