Three of the best from three local literary figures

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 4:56pm

Three figures from the local literary scene give us their three highlights of the year.

Marysia Juszczakiewicz

Founder and owner, Peony Literary Agency

1. The Irrawaddy Literary Festival. This was the first time a literary festival had been held in Myanmar. It was a fascinating event and everyone was captivated to hear the speech by Aung San Suu Kyi, patron of the festival.

2. For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet's Journey through a Chinese Prison by Liao Yiwu. This memoir by the exiled Chinese poet who was imprisoned after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown is a harrowing story, and a side of China everyone should read about.

3. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. This memorable book is more about the repressive North Korean regime. It tells the heart-wrenching story of Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a labour camp and watched his mother and brother executed.

Kelly Falconer

Founder, Asia Literary Agency

1. The inaugural Irrawaddy Literary Festival held in Yangon. Apart from Aung San Suu Kyi, it was also attended by notables such as Victor Chan and Thant Myint U, and was an incredibly memorable occasion.

2. Tan Twan Eng being named winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize for Literature for his quietly confident The Garden of Evening Mists. Kudos to the judges for awarding this masterful novel with the praise it deserves and for introducing the book to a worldwide audience that it otherwise may not have found.

3. Granta books rallying after a topsy-turvy Year of the Snake, with Eleanor Catton's voluminous The Luminaries winning the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Harrison Kelly

Managing director of Flatcap Asia arts and literary agency

1. Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang. A highly readable, revisionist account of the woman who launched modern China. It's peppered with minor details from the life and times of China's first de facto female leader.

2. The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri. A wonderful family saga drifting between Calcutta and the US. Fastidious prose and rich characters make this Man Booker-shortlisted novel my fictional highlight of the year.

3. J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith. An eager legal employee of one of the world's most famous authors lets slip the true identity of Robert Galbraith and The Cuckoo's Calling instantly goes to No1 right across the globe. A PR stunt by J.K. Rowling? I don't think so. I say bravo to her for using a pseudonym and achieving commercial and critical success even before the leak revealed the truth.