UH Graduate Student is Named Finalist in 2002 Kiriyama Prize

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Oct 17, 2002

Robert Barclay, a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi, at Mānoa was recently named a finalist for the 2002 Kiriyama Prize, which honors both fiction and nonfiction writers. Initially, 10 finalists are announced, which include five fiction and five nonfiction writers. Of those announced, two are named winners and share equally a $30,000 prize, which will be announced on October 29, 2002.

The Kiriyama Prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding books that enhance understanding of the many nations and the peoples of the Pacific basin. These include East and Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and the Pacific-bordering nations of Latin America. One nonfiction and one fiction book are chosen as the two winners. Books from all over the world are eligible as long as they are written or translated into English, relate to the nations of the Pacific Rim or South Asia in a significant way, and are published between October 1 of the preceding year and October 31 of the actual year that the Kiriyama Prize is being presented. The prize was established in 1996 and has been presented to both a fiction and nonfiction writer since 1999.Barclay is a first time novelist who was chosen among 152 other fiction writer candidates. His book is entitled "Melal: A Novel of the Pacific," and is a story based on a local community in the Marshall Islands where the U.S. military used the environment as a nuclear testing ground. He details in his novel the tragic effects suffered by native islanders.

Barclay is a former resident of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, thus explaining his ties to the community. He moved to Hawai‘i in 1993 and attended Honolulu Community College where he obtained his associate‘s degree in Liberal Arts. In addition, Barclay enrolled at UH Mānoa where he has completed bachelor‘s and master‘s degrees in English and is currently pursuing a doctorate in English.

"I am overwhelmed and still kind of in shock, but very honored to be in the company of these other writers and to have been chosen as a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize," Barclay replied when asked of his reaction to his novel‘s success. "I‘m also very happy that the story of the Kwajalein Atoll is getting attention through my book."