Singaporean indie Epigram eyes UK launch

Singaporean indie Epigram eyes UK launch

Singaporean independent publisher Epigram Books will set up its UK branch this spring.

Launching at this year's London Book Fair, Epigram Books UK will publish eight novels in 2017, about themes including family sagas, environmental and humanitarian disasters, feminism and religious belief.

Originally set up by Edmund Wee in 2011 in Singapore, Epigram Books's Singaporean arm publishes between 50-60 titles a year, across a diverse range of fiction including novels, short stories, plays, graphic novels, chapter books, picture books and poetry. Epigram Books UK will publish 10 books a year.

In 2015, the company launched the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, awarding S$25,000 (£14,000) to the winner and S$5,000 (£2,800) to three shortlisted finalists.

The UK launch list comprises Inheritance by Balli Kaur Jaswal, a novel about cultural and sexual change set in 1970s Singapore and Kappa Quartet by Daryl Qilin Yam, a "fantastic" tale of lost souls and river demons set between Singapore and Japan, both publishing in May 2017. The winner of the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, Now That It’s Over by O Thiam Chin and the "stunning" first novel from award-winning poet Cyril Wong, The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza, will follow in July. Sugarbread by Balli Kaur Jaswal and The Gatekeeper by Nuraliah Norasid are publishing in September and Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao by Sebastian Sim and State of Emergency by Jeremy Tiang in November.

Wee said: "Epigram Books was set up in 2011 to champion Singapore literature. Getting into publishing may have been an accident but expanding into London is deliberate: our aim is to bring Singapore literature to the world stage; to champion Singapore stories and identity and support local writers in their endeavours. Art enriches our understanding of the world around us by offering perspectives different from our own.

"For a long time the Singaporean voice has been marginal, even absent, because art was seen as a ‘luxury we cannot afford’. Few people in Singapore think this now. More Singaporeans are writing and have stories to tell: stories we should listen to; which should be given a chance to be heard through publication. We hope to help these voices join the chorus of international literature, one book at a time."

Kate Manning will be acting as sales and marketing consultant for Epigram Books UK.

The publisher will be represented in the UK by Signature Books Representation (UK) Ltd (sales@signaturebooksuk.com) and distributed by Central Books (orders@centralbooks.com). All titles will be published in B format paperback and sold at RRP £10.