SINGAPORE: A novel about the Little India riots has won the Epigram Books Fiction Prize for 2017.
Singaporean author Sebastian Sim’s The Riot Act, which takes a fresh look at the incident in 2013, bested three other manuscripts that were shortlisted. The piece features three women whose lives become intertwined after the event.
The other finalists were Judith Huang’s speculative fiction novel Sofia and the Utopia Machine, which is about a teenager who accidentally creates a new world; Akshita Nanda’s Nimita’s Place, which follows the stories of two women who share the same name but live 70 years apart; and Andre Yeo’s 9th Of August, a futuristic look about suicide bombers who carry out an attack in 2020.
All four titles are set to be published by Epigram Books by next year.
The results were revealed at the award ceremony and gala dinner held on Thursday night (Nov 23) at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.
Sim, who had also been a finalist back in 2015 for Let’s Give It Up For Gimme Lao!, will receive S$25,000 as well as a book publishing contract, while the shortlisted finalists also receive S$5,000 each.
Sim, who has previously worked as a bartender, a prison officer and a croupier, has also published three wuxia novels in Chinese between 2004 and 2012.
This year’s judges are: Epigram Books founder Edmund Wee, award-winning poet Cyril Wong, journalist Pamela Ho, and NUS associate professor Barbara Ryan. This year’s edition saw 47 manuscript submissions.
Previous winners include O Thiam Chin’s Now That It’s Over in 2015, and Nuraliah Norasid’s The Gatekeeper, in 2016.