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.
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 – 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.”
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.
The longlist is just as diverse in genre as it is
commendable in quality. We will no doubt have a tough time
picking out the shortlist.
Edmund Wee, Publisher & CEO of Epigram Books
Singaporean publisher increases prize money, offers prizes to all shortlisted manuscripts this year
Singapore’s richest literary prize is set to get richer, as local publisher Epigram Books raises the stakes for its annual Epigram Books Fiction Prize to $40,000 this year.
Now running in its second year, the 2016 prize will see three of its finalists receive $5,000 each, while the prize money for the winning manuscript will be increased to $25,000. Last year, only the winning manuscript received a $20,000 cash prize.
“While we’ve never doubted the abundance of Singapore’s fiction writing talent, we felt deeply encouraged by the quality of manuscripts from last year’s submissions,” said Edmund Wee, Publisher and CEO of Epigram Books. “And seeing how well our finalists’ novels are doing, we feel the shortlisted manuscripts should also get something more than the publishing contracts we offer them.”
Speaking at a writers’ forum titled The Great Singaporean Novel: Fantasy or Reality? at The Projector on Wednesday, Mr Wee also noted that two novels from last year’s shortlist, Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim and Death of a Perm Sec by Wong Souk Yee have already gone into their second print run a couple of months after their release in March and April respectively. The two other books from the 2015 prize, Sugarbread by Balli Kaur Jaswal and the winner Now That It’s Over by O Thiam Chin, were released in June.
Epigram Books will release three more titles from last year’s longlist—Annabelle Thong, a chicklit novel by Imran Hashim due in August; Kappa Quartet, a fantasy novel by Daryl Qilin Yam in September; and Altered Straits, a sci-fi tale by Kevin Martens Wong to be published in January 2017.
This year’s judging panel includes Mr Haresh Sharma, resident playwright for The Necessary Stage; Ms Constance Singam, former president of AWARE; Professor Philip Holden from the Department of English Language & Literature in National University of Singapore (NUS); and Mr Wee himself.
The closing date for manuscript submission is Thursday, 1st September 2016. The shortlist will be announced 2 months later, and the winner named in a gala dinner on 24th November 2016.
SINGAPORE, 24 March 2016—The Epigram Books Fiction Prize is pleased to announce the judging panel for this year’s competition, in conjunction with the release of Sebastian Sim’s Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao!, one of last year’s finalists.
Returning to judge this year’s prize are Professor Philip Holden from the Department of English Language & Literature in National University of Singapore (NUS), and Publisher & CEO of Epigram Books Edmund Wee. The two new judges are: Haresh Sharma, resident playwright for The Necessary Stage, and Constance Singam, former president of AWARE.
Haresh Sharma was conferred the Southeast Asian Writers (or S.E.A. Write) Award (Singapore) in 2014, and Singapore’s Cultural Medallion in 2015. Constance Singam recently published her memoir, Where I Was: A Memoir From the Margins.
“I am thrilled to be part of the panel of judges along with Philip Holden and Haresh Sharma,” says Constance. “It’s an exciting time for fiction writing in Singapore, and I’m eager to see who we will be offering the Prize to.”
Last year’s winner was short story writer O Thiam Chin, whose book, Now That It’s Over will be published in May. Finalist Sebastian Sim’s Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! is now available at all major bookstores, while Death of a Perm Sec by Wong Souk Yee and Sugarbread by Balli Kaur Jaswal will be released in the coming months.
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 about 40,000 words or more to be eligible.
The closing date for manuscript submissions is Wednesday, 31st August 2016. The shortlist will be announced 2 months later, and the winner named in a gala dinner in early December.
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