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[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]

 

 

Sponsorship secured for Epigram Books Fiction Prize, 10 on longlist

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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.

[Read the original article by Olivia Ho]

Announcing the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize longlist

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SINGAPORE, 22 SEPTEMBER 2017—Epigram Books is pleased to announce the longlist for its 2017 Fiction Prize.

The 10 writers were chosen from 47 submissions. They are, in alphabetical order:

Cheryl Chen, 35, is a copywriter who owns an agency in Singapore called One Zeitgeist. She has a background in Psychology. She enjoys listening to and sharing people’s stories with the world. Her favourite authors are Terry Pratchett and Stephen King.

Carissa Foo, 30, is a lecturer in writing and literature at Yale-NUS College. She received her PhD in English Studies from Durham University (UK), where she worked on the phenomenology of place in modernist women’s writing. She also works with a non-profit to teach English to migrant workers.

Judith Huang, 31, is a Singaporean writer, editor and translator. 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. She holds an AB from Harvard University, and her first poetry collection is forthcoming from Ethos Books in 2018.

Khor Kuan Liang, 28, is a private tutor in English and General Paper enrichment classes. He has been published in Reader’s Digest Asia and on Inconvenient Questions, a socio-political site about issues in Singapore and the region. He is an English Literature graduate of the National University of Singapore.

Lim Su-Min, 29, is an adviser at the Australian Energy Market Commission in Sydney and is about to start her own consultancy, Embiggen Econommics. Born in Singapore, she immigrated to Australia at one years old. She studied economics at the University of New South Wales.

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

Sebastian Sim, 51, has been a bartender in a pub, a prison officer 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. It was published in 2016.

Teo Xue Shen, 19, graduated from junior college in 2016 and is in his first year of National Service. He is an active member of the Singapore Scouts Association and enjoys many outdoor activities, such as fishing and trekking.

Tham Cheng-E, 38, is an architect in Singapore. He is the author of Surrogate Protocol, which was a shortlisted for the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. He blogs regularly about parenting and Down syndrome, and writes for the online magazine Special Seeds. He was educated at the National University of Singapore and the University College London.

Andre Yeo, 45, is an assistant editor at The New Paper, where he works with reporters and edits commentaries. He 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.

“We are encouraged by the number of high quality entries despite the third running of the prize. Picking the shortlist will not be easy,” said Edmund Wee, Publisher and CEO of Epigram Books, and one of the judges.

Mr Wan Kwong Weng, Mapletree Investments’ Head of Group Corporate Services said, “We are very happy to be a key sponsor for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017 for the second year, not only because Epigram is our tenant, but it has grown from strength to strength. As Singapore becomes more mature as a society, local literature will add to the spice of life and hopefully the tapestry of our society.”

The other major corporate sponsor is the Lee Foundation.

The shortlist is expected next month and the winner will be announced at an award ceremony and gala dinner to be held at Conrad Centennial Singapore on November 23, 2017.

Apart from Wee, 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 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, with its award of $25,000 to the winner and $5,000 to each of the 3 finalists, is open to all Singapore citizens, permanent residents and Singapore-born authors.

Singapore Writers on Writing About Race

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SINGAPORE – About 100 people packed the room at the Pod at National Library on Thursday night to talk about racial stereotypes and the portrayal of races in Singapore.

Organised and hosted by Epigram Books – whose publisher is also behind the children’s series Understanding Singaporeans: Why Do We Ask These Questions – the discussion covered a wide range of topics, including whether books about racial issues should be targeted at children, and what it means to write about race in Singapore.

Kalasegaran said: “You might disagree with (such books), but they have also opened up the discourse, and that allows other people to contribute.”

That said, due to the sensitive and somewhat emotional nature of the topic, Tiang said that “this is something that needs to be approached with care, particularly when one is from the majority race”.

He added: “My personal (view) is to to listen, to hear from as many other people as possible and try and understand what’s happening from these other points of view… While I’m not saying people from the majority should be silent, I think it’s more important to elevate the minority and to hear from these groups of people.”

[Read the original article by Reena Devi here]

 

The Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017 Judging Panel

Epigram Books Fiction Prize – announcement of the 2017 judging panel

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The Epigram Books Fiction Prize is pleased to announce the judging panel for this year’s competition.

Three new names will be joining the panel for this year’s prize: Barbara Ryan, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, Singapore Literature Prize-winning author and poet Cyril Wong, and Pamela Ho, editor for The A List Singapore.

Prof Barbara Ryan is a core member of a flagship educational initiative, the interdisciplinary NUS University Scholars Programme.
She said, “It is exciting to be asked to judge this year’s books along with Cyril, Pamela and Edmund. The Epigram Books Fiction prize recognizes literary talent and a growing audience, locally and overseas, for it.”

Cyril Wong is the author of the short story collection Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and the novel The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza. He served as a mentor under the Creative Arts Programme and the Mentor Access Project, as well as an adjudicator for the Golden Point Awards in Singapore.

Pamela Ho has worked in print, television and radio, previously serving at Mediacorp Publishing, Channel NewsAsia, and at 938LIVE where she co-hosted The Living Room, Singapore’s longest-running English radio chat show.

“It is a huge honour indeed to be asked to join this year’s Epigram Books Fiction Prize judging panel,” said Pamela. “I’m always very keen to discover good reads and new writers, and of course to support SingLit, so I’m really looking forward to see what’s in store.”

The Epigram Books Fiction Prize is now open to all Singaporeans citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents, and ex-Singaporeans. Manuscripts must be original, unpublished and uncontracted work, and should have a word count of at least 40,000 words.

The closing date for manuscript submissions is Tuesday, 1st August 2017. The shortlist will be announced 2 months later, and the winner named in a gala dinner in late November.

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