Epigram Books scores big with 4 wins at Singapore Book Awards

Amanda Lee Koe's Ministry Of Moral Panic won Best Fiction Title, while Sonny Liew's The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye won Book Of The Year at the Singapore Book Awards.
Amanda Lee Koe's Ministry Of Moral Panic won Best Fiction Title, while Sonny Liew's The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye won Book Of The Year at the Singapore Book Awards.PHOTOS: EPIGRAM BOOKS

SINGAPORE - Local publisher Epigram Books won big at the second edition of the Singapore Book Awards, which recognise the best in book publishing in Singapore.

It chalked up four wins, which was half of the eight awards given out, including awards such as Best Fiction Title, which went to Amanda Lee Koe's short story collection Ministry Of Moral Panic, and Book Of The Year, for the special cover edition of Sonny Liew's graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. It also won for Best Book Cover Design.

The awards were given out at a ceremony at the Rendezvous Hotel on Wednesday (May 11).

Epigram Books' The Rock And The Bird by author Chew Chia Shao Wei was named Best Young Adults' Title, while Lingzi Media's The Search, by Chinese writer and illustrator Lee Kow Fong, won Best Children's Title.

The other awards were: Best Education Title, which Star Publishing won for Singapore: The Making Of A Nation-State 1300-1975, Best Non-Fiction Title, awarded to Through The Lens Of Lee Kip Lin - Photographs Of Singapore 1965-1995, published by NLB and EDM Books, and Best Digital Work, given to The Colour Pencil by author Liow Yuting, published by Candid Creation.

Started in 2011 by publisher Edmund Wee, Epigram Books has brought out about 40 titles annually in the past few years, including bestsellers such as the Amos Lee series by children's author Adeline Foo and the Sherlock Sam boy detective series by husband-wife duo AJ Low, who are Felicia Low-Jimenez and Adan Jimenez.

Wee also brought out Liew's series The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, which re-tells Singapore's history through the eyes of its protagonist, interwoven with Chan's life and career as a comic artist. It is widely regarded as Singapore's best literary work in 2015.

The book was picked up by American imprint Pantheon Books and entered bestseller lists compiled by The New York Times and Amazon in March 2016.

The awards, which do not come with prizes, are organised by the Singapore Book Publishers Association, and were first held in 2012.

They were not given out in 2013 and 2014, as the association, which has 67 members, was focused on building up the presence of the Singapore publishing industry at overseas book fairs then.

Shortlisted books must be published in one of the four official Singapore languages and be published between Jan 1, 2013, and Nov 1 last year.

They must have a Singapore International Standard Book Number, with hard copies legally deposited with the National Library Board. Books sold in print must be available in retail stores here or overseas.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges, which include writers, educators, bookstore directors and other industry insiders.

The association's president Peter Schoppert, who is also director of NUS Press, told The Straits Times that it plans to hold the awards every year from now on.

"The number of submissions we received show that there's more competition, more quality, and that Singapore publishers are ahead of the game. We hope to add awards for marketing and production. We're looking at all aspects of the supply chain in the business," he said.

jianxuan@sph.com.sg