The longlist features two familiar names: office executive Sebastian Sim, 51, who was shortlisted in 2015 for comic novel Let’s Give It Up For Gimme Lao! and architect Tham Cheng-E, 38, shortlisted last year for speculative thriller Surrogate Protocol.
But most of the longlisted authors – chosen from 47 submissions – are newcomers to fiction, the youngest being 19-year-old national serviceman Teo Xue Shen.
Some are known for their writing in other fields, such as journalists Akshita Nanda, 38, who is an arts correspondent at The Straits Times; and The New Paper assistant news editor Andre Yeo, 45.
Also in the running is poet Judith Huang, 31, a three-time winner of Britain’s Foyle Young Poet Of The Year award for poets under 18.
Other fresh faces taking a crack at the prize include copywriter Cheryl Chen, 35; Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) College lecturer Carissa Foo, 30; private tutor Khor Kuan Liang, 28; and economics adviser Lim Su-Min, 29.