Singaporean indie Epigram Books has launched a UK arm, which will release eight novels in its inaugural year.
The UK office will initially have a staff of three, with book trade veteran Kate Manning, who has held sales and marketing roles at Hot Key, Random House and Pan Macmillan, acting as a consultant.
Its launch titles include Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Inheritance, set in 1970s Singapore during “a time of cultural and sexual change”; poet Cyril Wong’s début novel, The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza; and Kappa Quarter by Daryl Qilin Yam, a fantastical tale of river demons set in Singapore and Japan.
Epigram was founded by Edmund Wee (pictured) in 1991 as a design agency. After producing several books for various design clients, in 2009 the firm had a bestseller, Adeline Foo’s middle grade novel The Diary of Amos Lee, which has sold almost 250,000 copies worldwide. Wee decided to move fully into publishing in 2011, and Epigram has since established itself as one of the country’s biggest indies, producing 50–60 titles a year across children’s, illustrated non-fiction and fiction.
Wee said he believed that recent successes such as Madeleine Thein’s Booker and Baileys-shortlisted Do Not Say We Have Nothing prove there is a market in the UK for stories "with characters from parts of the world which have not always been well represented in fiction [in the UK]".
He added: "We believe in the quality and integrity of the books we publish, and know that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the best books being published in the UK and the US. Opening a London office enables us to publish the great authors on our list in the UK, and in so doing, bring Southeast Asian literature to a wider community."