Showing posts with label literary awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literary awards. Show all posts

Thursday 24 August 2023

Award-winning writer Saras Manickam dishes about authorial ego, complicated women and race discrimination in Malaysia in My Mother Pattu

 

Courtesy of Author


About the Book


My Mother Pattu (Penguin SEA, 2023).

 

Deeply humane, in turn wry and humorous, the stories in this collection haunt readers with their searing honesty. Authentic and unsentimental, each story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit even as it challenges comfortable conventions about identity, love, family, community, and race relations.

Saras Manickam, courtesy of Sharon Bakar

About the Author


Saras Manickam won the regional prize for Asia in the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Contest. In 2021, her story was included in the Bloomsbury anthology, The Art and Craft of Asian Stories

 

Having worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer, copywriter, and writer, Saras Manickam’s various work experiences enabled insights into characters, and life experiences, shaping the authenticity which mark her stories. 

 

My Mother Pattu is her debut collection of stories. She lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


_________________

 

EC: Congratulations on your brilliant short story collection, My Mother Pattu. I’m delighted to see the love it’s been getting. I’ve not enjoyed a short story collection this much in a while. I’m curious: many of the stories are set in Mambang (which also means haunting/spirit). Is your Mambang a fictional town or based on a real town (e.g. Mambang di Awan, Perak)? 

 

SM:  Thank you, Elaine, for your very kind words. It’s rather affirming that My Mother Pattu resonates with readers.

 

Mambang is not a real town. It’s fictional, and therefore gives me the freedom to craft the streets, houses, places in it. It frees you up, you know what I mean?

 

Saturday 16 January 2021

The Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2021 — Winners Boey Meihan and Sebastian Sim Announced



Joining the exalted ranks of past winners such as O Thiam Chin, Nuraliah Norasid and Yeoh Jo-Ann, are the just-announced joint winners of the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, the ceremony for which took place on the evening of January 16 and for the first time virtually (with a dinner set meal delivery service by Conrad Centennial) because of circuit breaker restrictions: Boey Meihan (Singapore) for The Formidable Miss Cassidy and Sebastian Sim (Singapore) for And The Award Goes to Sally Bong, each winner taking home $15,000 in cash prize and whose books will be published by Epigram Books in the second half of 2021.  

Boey Meihan is the author of the sci-fi romp The Messiah Virus (Math Paper Press, 2019) and also the Vice-President of The Association of Comic Artists in Singapore. The Formidable Miss Cassidy is about a ladies' companion who arrived in Singapore in the late 19th century to a household infested with pontianak and momoks and other supernaturals. Sebastian Sim is no stranger to the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, having won it in 2017 for The Riot Act and shortlisted in the inaugural rendition of the Prize with Let's Give It Up For Gimme Lao. His winning novel And The Award Goes To Sally Bong is about a non-achiever born two years after Singapore Independence, a counterpart to the super-achiever Gimme Lao. Sim has previously published wuxia novels in Chinese, and has worked a variety of interesting jobs, from being a prison officer to being a croupier in a casino.  





For the first time last year in 2020, Epigram Books opened up the Prize to encompass the Southeast Asian region and young writer Joshua Kam took home the $25,000 Prize for his debut novel How The Man In Green  Saved Pahang, and Possibly The World. This year was once again open to regional entries and judge Gareth Richards mentioned that 57 manuscripts were in contention for the Prize, making the judges' work of selecting one winner a difficult one. The other four shortlisted writers comprised Wesley Leon Aroozoo (Singapore), Pallavi Gopinath Aney (Singapore), Daryl Qiyin Yam (Singapore) and H.Y. Yeang (Malaysia), and all also received $5000 each in monetary award and will see their novels to publication in the latter half of 2021. The judges' panel comprised filmmaker Wahyuni Hadi, popular children's series Danger Dan author Monica Lim, Gerakbudaya owner Gareth Richards, NTU Associate Professor of English Dr. Sim Wai Chew, and Founder and CEO of Epigram Edmund Wee. The judges individually made comments about the quality of the submissions, with Hadi specifically commending the shortlisted novels for their depth of research, willingness to push boundaries and for being 'authentic to who the writer is'. Richards detailed the judging process in more granular detail, explaining some of the criteria for consideration such as originality and style, use of language, plot, characterisation and creativity, as well as more commercial considerations: does the novel speak to a potential audience, and is it a strong narrative or page-turner, saying that "there was a consensus about some of the offerings but by no means all." 

Edmund Wee remarked that last year had been 'miserable' for Epigram, with the closing of its e-business localbooks.sg, all its titles moving to Epigram Bookshop, its new online outlet, as well as its recent announcement of the closure of its sister operations in London, UK, and 2021 will be a challenge.  But he stated that he was happy the Prize could be held, and in fact, prize moneys were increased this year due to the cancellation of the physical event and dinner. 

We congratulate the winners of the 2021 Epigram Books Fiction Prize and all the shortlisted nominees. 





Wednesday 4 December 2019

Prizes and parties...

Some end-of-year thoughts from Nicky Harman



In my more pessimistic moments, I feel Chinese novels translated into English are a hard sell and I’m not sure when or if they will ever become part of the literary ‘mainstream’ in the West. My friend the poet and novelist Han Dong concurs: he reckons that Chinese fiction in foreign languages will never sell like western fiction translated into Chinese. You may or may not agree with his reasoning: Chinese readers are exposed from childhood to life in the west, through classic and new translations, books, films and TV series. But that familiarity doesn’t work the other way around. So Chinese literature doesn’t capture readers’ imagination.

I thought about this argument and wondered: so then do we only read fiction that describes worlds we are familiar with? Well no… not exactly. Just look at the winner of the 2019 Man Booker International prize, Jokha Alharti. Her novel, ‘Celestial Bodies’, is about Omani tribal society, hardly a place most of us have lived in or are familiar with. But it is a beautiful, captivating read.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

PEN TRANSLATES' WILL FORRESTER: IN CONVERSATION WITH NICKY HARMAN

 NICKY HARMAN interviews WILL FORRESTER, International and Translation Manager at English PEN, where he runs PEN TRANSLATES, the major UK-based, grant-giving programme funding literary translations.
picture credit - Stephanie Sy-Quia






You’ve had one round of PEN Translates, how did it feel? What were the most exciting books that came out of it for you?

Wednesday 27 June 2018

In Praise of the International Dublin Literary Award


I was honoured this year to be invited to be a judge for the International Dublin Literary Award (IDLA, formerly known as the IMPAC Prize), one of the most prestigious awards for fiction. As a translator, I was hugely excited to have the opportunity to expand my reading horizons and read some of the best contemporary fiction, so I said yes. In short order, box after box after box of books arrived for me, trundled down the rough track that leads to my house in Dorset by a surprised delivery driver.
IDLA is special for several reasons, not least because submissions can be made by any public libraries world-wide who wish to sign up for the scheme, so the prize is a great way of flagging up the hugely important role that such libraries have always played in the lives of readers, young and old. But what does the IDLA have to do with my usual blog topic, translation? Ah, well, that’s the magic of the IDLA. It’s the only major literary prize that treats translations into English on the same basis as works written originally in English.  Although the number of translations submitted was, unsurprisingly, less than ‘originals’, six splendid translations, out of a total of ten, made it onto the official shortlist.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Interview with Singapore Unbound Founder Jee Leong Koh

This is Lucía Orellana Damacela first column as International Correspondent for Asian Books Blog. Interview with New York-based Singapore Unbound founder and organizer Jee Leong Koh.
 
How was SG Unbound born, when, who created it?
It all began when writer and arts administrator Paul Rozario-Falcone and I got together one wintry afternoon in Cornelia Street Café, in New York City, to discuss the possibility of organizing a Singapore literature showcase in our adopted home. The literary scene in Singapore was growing, with new writers, presses, and publications, and we thought it was time to introduce the Big Apple to the Little Red Dot.

To rally support from the creative community in NYC, we started the Second Saturdays Reading Series, a monthly gathering featuring an open mike and a published author, and hosted in different private homes around the city. The first Second Saturdays gathering was held in Paul and Al’s home in Carroll Gardens in February 2014.

With the support of this community, we mounted the first Singapore Literature Festival in NYC in October that year, showcasing 14 Singaporean writers. The festival was so warmly received that I
was encouraged to make it a biennial event. At the 2nd Festival in September 2016, Singapore Unbound was officially launched.