The First Ever Novella Length Fictional Works Published in the English Language by a Maldivian Author

On the 25th July, 2007, the National Library of the Maldives announced their first ever ‘ENGLISH FICTION STORY WRITING COMPETITION’. Competitors were expected to submit original work of no less than 10,000 words each latest by the 31st October, 2007.

According to the National Library, the entries were judged by a panel comprising eminent littérateurs of local and foreign origin. Winners were announced on the 15th December, 2007.

Winning works were published and released in July 2008. These became the first ever non-short-story works of Maldivian fiction ever published in the English language!

selfI have the distinct honor of winning both First Place Winner and Second Place Winner. Interestingly enough, the National Library changed entry rules in 2008 which barred writers who are older than 35 from participating — to stop me taking part, as the erstwhile Executive Director of the institution jokingly said at the awards ceremony.

Since the National Library, due to the 2008 restrictions on the budget, could not print more than 200 copies per book, I submit here electronic copies for non-commercial study and perusal by my friends. Please do keep in mind, however, that the NLM holds the publication rights to these works.

First Place Winner,

National Library of the Maldives,

‘ENGLISH FICTION STORY WRITING COMPETITION’ 2007:


radiomanRadio Man This is essentially a “slice-of- life” story from a Maldivian perspective. The author has presented the reader with three different time slices, adding up to no more than fifteen minutes, from the memory of a young Maldivian man who got to grow up in a country that itself grew up from a sleepy, almost medieval island kingdom into a modern fast-paced tourist’s haven in little more than thirty years.

radiomanbookThis story is a unique bioscope of the birth of an ancient island nation into a very modern world. The time slice presentation through the eyes of a local protagonist offers the reader what is probably the first-ever description and insight in the English language into this particular period of Maldivian history.

Crucial to this story is a Philips B3G63A valve radio that slowly changes status from being an expensive marvel of modern science into a vintage collector’s piece. Crucial also is the young man who grows up in his uncle’s house and discovers the strength of his relationship not only to his uncle but also to the latter’s daughter.

This story is the outstanding First Place Winner in the Fiction Writing Competition held by the National Library  of the Maldives in 2007.

 

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Second Place Winner,

National Library of the Maldives,

‘ENGLISH FICTION STORY WRITING COMPETITION’ 2007:

kitefighterKite Fighter”Beat it! Get lost! Go jump in a lake! Take a hike! Go climb a tree! Go fry an egg! Take a long walk off a short plank! Go fly a kite!” We have all heard these unambiguous invitations to leave.

What an insult to the dying – if not already dead – tradition of kite-flying in the Maldives! What a slight to the art of kite-fighting as practiced not only in the Maldives but in many places in Asia. Let us even consider what happened when Benjamin Franklin flew a kite, by invitation or otherwise….but that is another story.

kitefighterbookThis is the story of a seventeen-year-old boy on a remote tropical island in the Maldives whose only passion was flying his kite and, at times, winning the odd kite fight. His parents, however, had other dreams and ambitions for him and they sent him off to the capital Male’ to become what they called ‘someone’.

This story takes the reader and its protagonist from a rustic island village to an ever-changing dynamic capital city on an island where ambitions, dreams and wishes all merge into a fast-paced race called modern development. It is set in a very real Maldives, it is probably the first-ever narrative description of aspects of living in the Maldives in very real and vivid terms while subtly portraying facets of life in the Maldives through the eyes of a young local hero.

As the story unfolds to make the island boy an independent man of worth, he finds out that despair can sometimes lead to determination and that even love can take second place to self-respect. Through it all, the erstwhile kite fighter slowly transforms the physical skills he had mastered in flying his humble kite into an increasingly metaphorical code of conduct to go where he realizes life must take him.

This story is the Second Place Winner in the Fiction Writing Competition held by the National Library of the Maldives in 2007.


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