SINGAPORE - Short story collection And Softly Go The Crossings made an impact at the Singapore Book Awards on Friday (Sept 24).
The collection by Danielle Lim snagged the top honour, Book of the Year, at the annual industry awards by the Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA).
The seventh edition of the awards, which recognise the best in local book publishing, took place as a hybrid event, both in person in Jurong Town Hall and live-streamed online.
Lim, 47, co-won the Singapore Literature Prize for English non-fiction in 2016 for her memoir The Sound Of Sch and was previously shortlisted for the Singapore Book Awards for her 2018 novel Trafalgar Sunrise.
And Softly Go The Crossings, which also won Best Literary Work, examines change and healing, from a man caring for his dying father to a retrenched middle-aged worker who tries to reinvent himself in new careers.
Lim, a polytechnic lecturer, said she had hoped to win in the Literary Work category, but did not expect her quiet book to clinch Book of the Year.
"During this pandemic and with the climate crisis and so on, I think it's really important for us to be more attentive to changes, especially the unseen changes which take place in the mind," she said.
"There's nothing special, nothing extraordinary about the characters. But there's a lot of beauty, pain and also healing that goes on which we don't see, and I think we don't recognise enough.
"These stories are dedicated to the ordinary folks out there who are trying to find a way through their struggles."
In a statement, the Book of the Year judging panel said: "The issues, trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows narrated in the stories are relevant in today's changing world and will be read for years to come."
The panel comprised former SBPA president Triena Ong, Nanyang Technological University assistant professor Michelle Wang and Ms Suporn Arriwong, deputy head of English-language selection at the National Library Board.
They also gave an honorary mention to Denise Fletcher's hefty recipe book How to Cook Everything Singaporean, which won Best Illustrated Non-Fiction Title.
There is traditionally no shortlist for the Book of the Year category, which is judged by a separate panel after other prizes are decided. The winning titles of the other categories, plus independent submissions, are considered.
Ten titles, chosen from 38 finalists, scored wins at the ceremony.
Lives & times of hrh - the memoir of retired civil servant Herman Ronald Hochstadt - won Best Non-Fiction Title, while Best Young Persons Title went to popular children's book Sherlock Sam And The Seafaring Scourge On Sentosa by husband-and-wife duo A. J. Low.
Best Audiobook, one of a few new categories introduced only last year, went to Storytel Singapore's Impractical Uses Of Cake, based on the Epigram Books Fiction Prize-winning novel by Yeoh Jo-Ann, narrated by Joshua Lim.
To qualify for the awards, books must be published in one of Singapore's four official languages between Jan 1 and Dec 31 the previous year.
They must have a Singapore International Standard Book Number, a unique number that identifies each edition of a book, with hard copies legally deposited with the NLB. Books sold in print must be sold in retail stores locally and/or overseas.
Winners, who were chosen by a panel of judges comprising writers, academics and other industry insiders, received a plaque and a certificate of recognition.