Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas won the 2009 Best Book prize at the esteemed Commonwealth Writers' Awards ceremony that was held at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival on Saturday. Tsiolkas, an author of 6 novels, 6 plays and 2 screenplays won the award for his latest book The Slap that is told through the voices of 8 people who witness Harry, an unrelated adult slapping a young child at a suburban barbeque.
The novel inspects the theme of family life, and questions the concepts of upbringing, expectations, and beliefs that surround the household space.
The Greek-Australian writer’s other books include The Jesus Man (1999) The Devil's Playground (2002) Dead Europe and Loaded which was adapted into a film Head on (1998) by Australian director Ana Kokkinos.
Additionally, Mohammed Hanif, Pakistani writer and journalist, was awarded the Best First Book Award for his novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes that was also shortlisted for Guardian First book award. The novel is based on a fictitious story that could have led to the real life plane crash which killed General Zia, dictator of Pakistan from 1977 to 1988, about which there are already many conspiracy theories.
The first round of prizes for regional winners (that further went on to compete for the overall prize, were announced on 11 March 2009. The winning novels The Lost Colours of the Chameleon by Mandla Langa (South Africa), Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Nigeria), Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott (Canada), Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas (Canada), Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (United Kingdom), A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif (Pakistan), The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and The Year of the Shanghai Shark by Mo Zhi Hong (New Zealand).
Last year, the Best Book Award went to The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (Canada) and the award for the Best First Book was bagged by A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh).
The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, that is organized and funded by the Commonwealth Foundation, is a leading award for fiction that was first awarded in 1987.