Indian writers have dominated the shortlist of authors competing for Asia's top literary prize, with a debut Pakistani novelist also among those vying for the $30,000 award.
An unprecedented seven authors, including three from India and writers from Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and China, will compete for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize after judges expanded the shortlist from its usual five.
BBC correspondent Razia Iqbal, who heads the judging panel, said in a statement Tuesday that the shortlist had been expanded to accommodate the strength of Asian contemporary fiction and "the imaginative power of the stories now being written about rapidly changing life" in the region.
The prize, limited to Asian authors whose books are either written in English or translated into English, was founded in 2007 and shares the same sponsor as the Man Booker Prize, among the world's top literary awards.
The seven shortlisted books include "Rebirth" by Indian doctor and author Jahnavi Barua, cricket journalist Rahul Bhattacharya's "The Sly Company of People Who Care" and Amitav Ghosh's "River of Smoke".
They will compete against "The Wandering Falcon", the debut by Islamabad-based author Jamil Ahmad set in the border areas of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan in the decades before the rise of the Taliban.
Also vying for the prize is "Please Look After Mom" by acclaimed South Korean novelist Kyung-sook Shin, "Dream of Ding Village" by Chinese novelist Yan Lianke and "The Lake" by Japan's Banana Yoshimoto.
A total of 90 books were submitted for entry in 2011 and a longlist of 12 was announced in October last year.
The winner will be announced at a black-tie ceremony in Hong Kong on March 15. Last year's prize was won by acclaimed Chinese author Bi Feiyu for "Three Sisters", set during the Cultural Revolution.