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[The Straits Times] Prize-winning book sprung from mid-life crisis

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Yeoh Jo-Ann’s debut novel is about the relationship between a teacher and a homeless woman

Turning 35 years old jolted Yeoh Jo-Ann into completing her first novel.

The author, now 36, says it was “like having your life smack you in the face”, a fortnight of feeling the lowest she had ever felt.

She could not shake off the idea that she might be halfway through her life or, even more than that, if she were to die at the same age as her father. He died of cancer, aged 60.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

[The Straits Times] Turning 35 prompted Yeoh Jo-Ann to complete winning Epigram Books Fiction Prize novel

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The author, now 36, said it was like “having your life smack you in the face”, a fortnight of feeling the lowest she had ever felt.

She could not shake the idea that she might be halfway through her life – or even more than that, if she were to die at the same age as her father, who died of cancer aged 60.

Yeoh, a client operations director with a digital marketing agency, emerged from the meltdown with two resolutions: one, put her family ahead of her career; and two, finish the novel she had been meaning to write.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

[The Straits Times] First-time novelist wins richest Singapore literary prize

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Novel about a teacher who meets a woman from his past who is homeless praised for its sensitivity

Singapore’s richest literary prize went yesterday to first-time novelist Yeoh Jo-Ann.

The 36-year-old, a client operations director with a digital marketing agency, won the $25,000 Epigram Books Fiction Prize for her manuscript, Impractical Uses Of Cake, in which a man has his life turned upside down after he finds a woman from his past homeless and living in a cardboard box.

“It is a very unusual novel for the sensitivity and tact with which it handles a very complex human situation with a very interesting narrator and an even more interesting female protagonist. It reveals a whole side of Singapore that many people in Singapore may not be aware of, with a dry sense of humour and a deep understanding of human difficulties and the problems faced by Singapore as an urban centre,” said Professor Rajeev S. Patke, director of the humanities division at Yale-NUS College, who was one of the judges.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

[The Straits Times] Debut novel wins Singapore’s richest literary prize, which opens to Asean writers next year

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Singapore’s richest literary prize went on Thursday (Nov 22) to first-time novelist Yeoh Jo-Ann.

The 36-year-old, a client operations director with a digital marketing agency, won $25,000 for her manuscript Impractical Uses Of Cake, in which a man has his life turned upside down after he finds a woman from his past homeless and living in a cardboard box.

“It is a very unusual novel for the sensitivity and tact with which it handles a very complex human situation with a very interesting narrator and an even more interesting female protagonist.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

[The Straits Times] Eight new faces on Epigram Books Fiction Prize longlist

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Eight writers, many of them newcomers to fiction, have been longlisted for the 2018 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.

The award is Singapore’s only prize for unpublished English-language novels, as well as its richest literary award. The top prize is worth $25,000, while three runner-ups will get $5,000 each.

Those on the list are first-time novelists, with the exception of civil servant Pranav S. Joshi, 53, who published a previous novel, Behind A Cultural Cage (2007), and also garnered an honorary mention in the 2015 Golden Point Award in English Poetry.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

[The Straits Times] Former croupier and prison officer turned award-winning author

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Sebastian Sim, winner of Singapore’s richest literary prize for his upcoming novel The Riot Act, says shift work gives him time to write

Author Sebastian Sim has been a bartender, a croupier and a prison officer. He has cut cards for high rollers, reprimanded gangsters and watched customers spill drinks and sob stories across the bar.

To many, the 51-year-old may seem like a drifter. But this itinerant job-hopping is tied to a singular purpose conceived when he was a 17-year-old junior college student – to be a writer.

“I choose to do shift work so I can save the best hours of the day for writing,” says Sim, who is now an office executive. “I did not want to be sucked into the rat race. Work for me is just income and an avenue to collect life experiences.”

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

[The A List] Sebastian Sim wins Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017

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Second time lucky! Sebastian Sim, author of Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao!, was a finalist for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize (EBFP) but fell short of winning the top prize. It was a different story at the award ceremony and gala dinner held at the Conrad Centennial Singapore on 23 November. Sim walked away as the winner of EBFP 2017, with a cash prize of S$25,000 and a publishing contract for his 2017 submission, The Riot Act.

[Read the original article by Pamela Ho]

[The Straits Times] Second time lucky for winner of fiction book prize

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It is second time lucky for author Sebastian Sim, who walked away with $25,000 after winning the third Epigram Books Fiction Prize yesterday.

The office executive, 51, won Singapore’s richest literary prize with his manuscript The Riot Act.

He was a finalist for the inaugural prize in 2015 for comic novel Let’s Give It Up For Gimme Lao!, but lost to O Thiam Chin’s Now That It’s Over.

He said: “I practised being disappointed two years ago, so this year, I decided to lower my expectations. This has been a big surprise and I can’t stop smiling.”

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

Announcing the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize shortlist

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The 2017 Shortlist

SINGAPORE, 20 OCTOBER 2017— Epigram Books is pleased to announce the shortlist for this year’s Epigram Books Fiction Prize. The writers are, in alphabetical order:

Judith Huang, 31, is a three-time winner of the UK Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poet of the Year award. She has been published in Prairie Schooner, Asia Literary Review, QLRS, Lontar, Stylus and Asymptote, and her first poetry collection is forthcoming from Ethos Books in 2018. She holds an AB from Harvard University.

Akshita Nanda, 38, writes about the arts for The Straits Times, where she has worked since 2007. She studied molecular biology at the National University of Singapore and worked in genetic engineering before becoming an editor in 2002. She moved to Singapore from India in 1995.

Sebastian Sim, 51, has been a bartender in a pub, a warden in a maximum security prison and a croupier in a casino. He is currently an office executive. He has published several books in Chinese and his first English novel, Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! was shortlisted for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize and published in 2016.

Andre Yeo, 45, is an assistant editor at The New Paper and has been a journalist for 21 years. In 2014, he self-published his first book, Home: 50 50-word Stories to Celebrate Singapore’s 50th Birthday.

 

“Congratulations to all the finalists. And my heartfelt thanks to all the other 43 participants, the corporate and individual sponsors of this award and other supporters who have pre-ordered our EBFP bundles,” says Edmund Wee, Publisher and CEO of Epigram Books, and one of the judges.

The other judges for this year’s prize are Cyril Wong, Singapore Literature Prize-winning poet; Professor Barbara Ryan, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore; and Pamela Ho, editor of The A List, a monthly arts and culture magazine published by the National Arts Council.

The winner will be announced at the award ceremony and gala dinner on 23 November 2017 (Thursday), at Hotel Conrad Centennial Singapore.

The winner will receive $25,000 and the three finalists $5,000 each. All four will be offered a publishing contract.

Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017 shortlist announced

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SINGAPORE – Two journalists have made the shortlist for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017, Singapore’s richest literary prize.

Straits Times arts correspondent Akshita Nanda and assistant news editor at The New Paper Andre Yeo will be vying for the third edition of the $25,000 prize, Singapore’s only one for unpublished English-language novels.

They will be up against office executive Sebastian Sim, who is on the shortlist for a second time, and writer Judith Huang.

The four novels in the running for the prize include a speculative novel set in a futuristic Singapore, in which a 13-year-old girl accidentally creates a new world using the Reality Machine in her mother’s Biopolis laboratory, forcing her to go on the run from the government.

Another follows two women with the same name living 70 years apart, one an aspiring engineer in 1944 India, the other a scientist who emigrates from India to Singapore in 2015 to escape her matchmaking family and a secret past.

The last two draw on current affairs and news headlines: in one, six suicide bombers slip into Singapore to carry out an attack on National Day in 2020, while the other takes a fresh look at the 2013 Little India riot.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho here]

 

 

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