The Epigram Books Fiction Prize, one of the region’s most renowned literary prizes, is back, and has now longlisted 12 authors vying for the 2021 prize, following Malaysian author Joshua Kam’s win in 2020 for his debut novel How The Man In Green Saved Pahang, And Possibly The World.
Hailing from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand, due to the pandemic, the event next year will be a virtual one, with the funds originally slated for the ceremony re-allocated to an expanded shortlist and increased prize pool. Instead of the usual four shortlisted finalists, the longlist will now be cut to a shortlist of six, with the total prize money increased from S$40,000 to S$50,000. The winner receives S$25,000, while the other finalists get S$5,000 each, with all shortlisted manuscripts to be published by Epigram.
The twelve longlisted writers are LASALLE College of the Arts lecturer/artist Wesley Leon Aroozoo (Singapore); sci-fi author Boey Meihan (Singapore) of space opera The Messiah Virus; magazine editor Sandra Chua (Singapore); novelist Glenn Diaz (The Philippines) of The Quiet Ones; lawyer Pallavi Gopinath Aney (Singapore); academic Kathrina Mohd Daud (Brunei) who was shortlisted in 2020 for The Fisherman King; writer and retiree Muthu Ramiah (Malaysia); novelist Sebastian Sim (Singapore), who previously won the 2017 prize for The Riot Act; writer Wipas Srithong (Thailand), who won the S.E.A. Write Award in 2012 for his first novel Khon Khrae (“The Dwarf”); poet Daryl Qilin Yam (Singapore) who was previously longlisted for the 2015 prize for his debut novel Kappa Quartet; academic and retiree H.Y. Yeang (Malaysia); and The New Paper news editor Andre Yeo (Singapore), whose novel 9th of August was shortlisted for the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.
The final shortlist of six will be announced in the coming weeks, with the eventual winner decided by the judging panel comprising Wahyuni Hadi, film producer and curator; Monica Lim, author and founder of writing agency Hedgehog Communications; Gareth Richards, founder of Gerakbudaya Bookshop; Sim Wai Chew, associate professor of English at the School of Humanities in Nanyang Technological Institute, and Edmund Wee, publisher and founder of Epigram Books.
Find out more about the Epigram Books Fiction Prize here
Since the beginning of the year, authors from all over the region have been submitting their works for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize. After reviewing the entries sent our way, we’ve decided on the longlisted writers for the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize (EBFP); with the 12 writers hailing from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, we will not be hosting a physical prize ceremony and gala dinner next year. Instead, the event will be a virtual one.
Having said that, we know that writers need as much help as they can get—even more so these days—so we have decided to re-allocate the funds to expand the shortlist to six writers instead of the usual four, with the total prize money increased from S$40,000 to S$50,000. The winner receives S$25,000, while the other finalists get S$5,000 each. The winning and shortlisted manuscripts will be published.
The shortlist will be announced in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, meet the 12 longlisted writers:
Wesley Leon Aroozoo, 36, Singapore.Wesley is a lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts and a multi-disciplinary artist with 13 Little Pictures. His works span across the literary arts, film, television, and theatre. He previous wrote the novella Bedok Reservoir, and his films have been screened in festivals around the world. He is the author of the novella Bedok Reservoir and non-fiction book I Want to Go Home.
Boey Meihan, 43, Singapore. Meihan is the author of the sci-fi romp The Messiah Virus, a space opera set in an all-Asian, mostly female, wildly improbable universe. She has had her short stories published in various anthologies, and is the Vice President of the Association of Comic Artists of Singapore. She was also involved with Supacross, IGNITE, and other local projects in support of the local comic book community.
Sandra Chua, 60, Singapore. Sandra previously wrote for Female Magazine and later worked as a consultant before becoming a magazine editor. A retiree and mother of three millennials, she spends her time painting watercolours, battling an overgrown garden, critiquing Korean dramas and experimenting with traditional recipes in the kitchen.
Glenn Diaz, 34, Philippines. Glenn’s first novel The Quiet Ones, about the call centre industry in the Philippines, won the Palanca Grand Prize and the Philippine National Book Award. His other work, including short fiction, poetry, and criticism, has been published internationally. He is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
Pallavi Gopinath Aney, 40, Singapore. Pallavi is a lawyer by day (and, quite frequently, into the wee hours of the morning) and loves writing. She was originally from India but has called Singapore home since 2006. In addition to her legal practice, Pallavi enjoys mentoring young lawyers, focusing on diversity and inclusion initiatives and waiting hand and foot on her overlarge golden retriever.
Kathrina Mohd Daud, 36, Brunei. Kathrina is an academic based in Brunei Darussalam, who teaches at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. She has published academic works on Bruneian literature, popular fiction and the representation of religion in literature. She is a co-founder of all-female theatre group Salted Egg Theatre, and was the director of the literary festival, Tiny Lit Fest, in 2019. Her first novel, The Fisherman King, was shortlisted for the 2020 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.
Muthu Ramiah, 74, Malaysia. Muthu was born in Klang, Selangor, and began writing short stories and poetry after he read some stories in a cinema magazine. A former senior technician in Malaysia’s National Power Company, he started writing stories again after he retired. A grandfather of five, his short stories were published online and in the collection, Unmasked: Reflections on Virus-time.
Sebastian Sim, 54, Singapore. Sebastian has published three wuxia novels in Chinese, and two contemporary novels in English, including The Riot Act, which won the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. He has worked variously as a bartender, a manager of a fast food outlet, a prison officer in a maximum-security prison, and a croupier in a casino. In his spare time, he enjoys trekking and backpacking.
Wipas Srithong, 50, Thailand. Born in Phatthalung, Thailand, Wipas had several of his short stories published during his last year of medical studies at university. It was the final impetus he needed to become a full-time writer. He has since published four novels—the first of which, Khon Khrae (“The Dwarf”) won the S.E.A. Write Award in 2012. He has also published collections of short stories and poetry. Wipas also has a passion for the cinema, running and getting lost in nature.
Daryl Qilin Yam, 29, Singapore. Daryl has written and published short fiction and poetry, and is an editor and arts organiser. His first novel, Kappa Quartet was longlisted for the 2015 Epigram Book Fiction Prize. He is a director at the literary charity Sing Lit Station and is presently pursuing graduate studies at Nanyang Technological University.
H.Y. Yeang, 70, Malaysia. HY Yeang grew up in Penang, and joined the Rubber Research Institute (RRIM) after graduating from university. He rose to head the Biotechnology and Strategic Research Unit, a post he held until his retirement. He has authored and co-authored more than 200 research papers, and was elected a Fellow of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences. He is currently engaged in providing online editorial services.
Andre Yeo, 48, Singapore. Andre is the news editor at The New Paper and has been a journalist for 24 years. A father of four, he has written two books: the self-published collection Home: 50 50-word Stories To Celebrate Singapore’s 50th Birthday, and the novel 9th of August, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. Other than books, he is an ardent Lego fan and enjoys cooking.
The winner will be decided by our panel of judges, which comprises Wahyuni Hadi, film producer and curator; Monica Lim, author and founder of writing agency Hedgehog Communications; Gareth Richards, founder of Gerakbudaya Bookshop; Sim Wai Chew, associate professor of English at the School of Humanities in Nanyang Technological Institute, and Edmund Wee, publisher and founder of Epigram Books.
Find out more about the Epigram Books Fiction Prize here