Myanmar Consolidated Media

National Literary Awards announced

By Zon Pann Pwint
Volume 31, No. 606
December 19 - 25, 2011

Lifetime National Literary Award winner Dr Thaw Kaung.
Pic: Myanmar Times Archive

WINNERS of National Literary Awards for 2010 were announced on December 13, with honours given in 11 categories, including a new prize for best English-language book published in Myanmar.

But missing this year were awards for the Culture and Arts, Children’s Literature, Best Novel and Best Drama categories.

Among the winners was author Nay Win Myint, who was honoured with his third National Literary Award.

“I won in the Collected Short Stories category in 1992 and 2007, but this time I won in the Translation (Aesthetic) category. As a fiction writer, that is unusual for me,” he said.

The 2010 award was for Yekantha Kyataingaye, his translation of Amitah Gosh’s novel The Glass Palace, published serially in Shwe Amutay magazine over the course of three years. The entire translation was released last year in book form.

“I spent years struggling mightily to translate the book, and I feel I have been recognised for my effort. I’m happy about the award,” said Nay Win Myint, who lives in Mandalay but visits Yangon frequently for literary talks.

He said he was first exposed to the English-language version of The Glass Palace, published in 2000, when a friend returned from India and gave him a copy.

“The book engaged my interest from the first chapter, which is set in Mandalay,” Nay Win Myint said.

“The book was brilliant; all the parts cohered as a whole and the author combined history in the background of the novel where needed. I became absorbed in the book and later went to great pains to translate it. I was satisfied with my work and readers also replied that they liked the book.”

A Lifetime National Literary Award was given to Dr Thaw Kaung, who has written more than 200 articles and 10 books, including the English-language From the Librarian’s Window: View of Library and Manuscript Studies and Myanmar Literature (2008) and Aspects of Myanmar History and Culture (2010).

He has also been involved with a number of projects aimed at preserving old Myanmar palm-leaf manuscripts, and has dedicated many hours to studying and writing about rare, unpublished texts to make them better known in the world.

In 2008 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in Myanmar Culture by the Pakkoku U Ohn Pe Literary Prize Committee.

“I am happy and proud to achieve the highest literary award given by our country,” Dr Thaw Kaung said of last week’s honour.

“I have been given many honours in foreign countries, such as a Doctor of Letters degree from Western Sydney University in 1999, but I will esteem this award that our country has conferred for my work.”

Other awards were given to Ye Shan in the Collected Short Stories category for Budayongale (A Little Railway Station); Myinmu Maung Naing Moe in the Collected Poems category for Alwan-thadin Pan-ta-khin (Melancholic News and a Bed of Flowers); Tint Swe (Pyapon) in the Belles-letters category for Kyawpoeikalayko Chikalwe (A Bag Riding on Me); and Tin Myint in the Youth Literature category for From Shinma Mountain to Ayeyarwady.

The Translation (General Knowledge) award went to Boe Hlaing for Discovery of India; General Knowledge to Dr Aung Myint Oo for Research on Language; and General Knowledge (Science) to Sayagyi U Han Tun for Narathukha Treatise and Prose Treatise.

Saw Ngu Wah (Pyinmana)’s IM Bio-technological Agriculture (Applied Science) won for General Knowledge; Ko Than (Kyimyindine)’s The Secret Journey of a Myanmar Youth Group to the Battlefield of Vietnam took the prize for Political Literature; and Kyaw Latt’s Art and Architecture of Bagan and Historical Background was the first book to win in the new English Language category.

The prize ceremony for the National Literary Awards will be held in Nay Pyi Taw on December 27.