Michelle Yeoh on 2023 Epigram Books Fiction Prize panel

Two Malaysians have bagged the award previously.

Yeoh was selected as part of the judging panel this year (Photo: Jingna Zhang/TIME)

Do you have a book idea that has been simmering for years, or a story agitating to be told? If you need a reason to get started, this is it: the 2023 Epigram Books Fiction Prize (EBFP) is calling for entries.

Four shortlisted submissions will receive S$5,000 (RM15,900) each and a publishing contract from the independent publishing company in Singapore. The winner, to be selected from these finalists, will get an additional S$25,000.

Epigram Books initiated the EBFP in 2015 to promote contemporary creative writing and reward excellence in Singapore literature. Five years later, the prize was opened to writers from Southeast Asia.

Two Malaysians have bagged the award since: Joshua Kam in 2020 for How the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World and Karina Robles Bahrin last year. Her novel, The Accidental Malay, is scheduled for release in August.


Joshua Kam's 'How the Man in Green Saved Pahang'

Joining the judging panel for the 2023 edition of this annual prize is Malaysian actress-cum-producer Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, whose films include Tomorrow Never Dies; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Crazy Rich Asians; and Everything Everywhere All at Once. She made the BBC’s 2020 list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world. In May, she was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2022.

Epigram Books founder Edmund Wee chairs the panel, which includes Singapore novelists Meira Chand and Carissa Foo, and NUS Press director Peter Schoppert. Wee recently told The Straits Times why Yeoh was included.

“Since we opened the prize up to Southeast Asians, we felt there ought to be a non-Singaporean judge on board. And the panel has always included someone who, while not from publishing, is somewhat related to it — like a theatre or film person. Michelle fits the category.”


Chand is part of the judging panel

Submissions for the EBFP, written in English, must be full-length, original and unpublished manuscripts of at least 40,000 words. If an original translation of a work is submitted, one of the entrants has to be its original author. Only citizens and permanent residents of Southeast Asia are eligible to take part.

The EBFP has awarded eight winners and published more than 30 novels since its launch. Entries for 2023 close on Aug 1 and the winner will be announced next January.

See here for more info.



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