Singapore stories by Singapore's largest independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction for all ages.

Open Invite: The Finer Art of Editing III-V

After hosting the internationally acclaimed writers Miguel Syjuco and Meira Chand for the first two editions of The Finer Art of Editing, we’re so proud to announce the next three authors who’ll share their international editing experiences with the extended Singapore Literature family. Joining us next for our monthly mixer series are: Tash Aw (8 May), Githa Hariharan (29 May) and Robin Hemley (26 June)!

If you don’t know already, Tash Aw has been longlisted for The Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novels, The Harmony Silk Factor and Five Star Billionaire. Writer-editor Githa Hariharan’s first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and her work now also encompasses short stories, essays, newspaper articles and columns. Former director of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Programme Robin Hemley has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and many other awards for his 11 books (our personal favourite is Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness).

All three star-studded sessions are open to every Singapore publisher—especially those with a literary fiction arm—and will start at 7.30pm on those three Friday evenings here at Epigram Books. Please note that there will be no session in April as there are two in May. Do RSVP with our Sales Manager Ilangoh Thanabalan at ‘’ if your publishing house is keen to join us for a complimentary evening of editing enrichment, snacks, drinks and conversations with some of the best writers in world literature.

  • The Finer Art of Editing III with Tash Aw
    • 8 May, Friday, 7.30pm, Epigram Books (1008 Toa Payoh North, #03-08, S318996)
  • The Finer Art of Editing IV with Githa Hariharan 
    • 29 May, Friday, 7.30pm, Epigram Books
    • The Finer Art of Editing V with Robin Hemley
      • 26 June, Friday, 7.30pm, Epigram Books

    A Day in the Life of Dustin

    Our long-running series, A Day in the Life, makes a long-awaited return with Dustin Wong’s entry! Until recently, Dustin was our intern and we miss him dearly. Few know that Dustin’s not only a published poet but an actively performing one too. Why, he even gave an an impromptu poetry recital at Queensway Secondary School’s English and Literature Appreciation Day while selling our books! So savour his words...

    I suppose that I should explain my role in Epigram Books before I take you through a typical day in the office.

    I am officially recorded as an ‘intern’ in the company archives. What that means in the context of Epigram Books is that I do everything from lugging cartons of books about the stock room to filling in vast and complicated data sheets with rather sensitive information.

    It may seem like a fair bit too much to heft upon a mere intern but I’m not complaining. The work is challenging, but not impossible, and my colleagues are a friendly lot; we all get along just fine.

    All in all, this internship has been turning out to be a rather enjoyable shindig. But I shan’t break into the details without flexing my withering literary muscles.

    I present to you folks, a day in the life of Epigram Book’s sai kang warrior:



    I trudge into the office, feeling the hairs on my arms rise in response to the sudden blast of frigid air hurtling out from the depths of the office interior. The office floor is gloomy, with cold, actinic light silhouetting those few colleagues of mine who have deigned it fit to come in this early in the morning.

    There is a list of tasks two pages long inside my daily planner.

    It’s going to be a long, long day.


    The office is unusually chilly this morning. I pull my arms closer to my body, folding them across my chest in an attempt to preserve whatever little bodily heat I can.

    Some have taken to blaming this oddly out of place cold on the monsoon season, pegging the drop in temperature to the storm clouds and raindrops rolling and falling across the land. Others whisper of catastrophic changes in the workings of the world, uttering phrases like ‘ozone depletion’ and ‘global warming’ in trepid voices.

    I blame it on the two air conditioning units that my desk is sandwiched in between.


    I am slouched over in my seat. My fingers are numb from the wintry drafts that blow me by as well as from jabbing away at an unresponsive keyboard. My temper frays with every spinning ball of doom that pops up on the screen of my Mac; there is a vein throbbing away beneath my right temple.

    I glance at the time, so proudly displayed at the top right hand corner of the Mac’s screen, and find myself muttering some curse of ill taste beneath my breath my breath.

    The words nearly drift past my lips in an effervescent cloud.


    I find myself sitting in a secluded corner of the stock room at the back of the office. The air here is still and unmoving, and possessed little trace of the frigidity that so often pervades the main office space, with only the occasional chilly draft blowing by my cheeks every now and then. 

    I recline on the dusty concrete floor, and shut my eyes, in an attempt to make the most out of my lunch hour and catch up on my enormous sleep debt.

    I hope a spider doesn’t find its way into my mouth.


    I wake up coughing and sputtering.

    There is a spider ihas found its way into my mouth. 


    “Dustin,” someone calls my name from the left.

    Ilangoh is sitting in his chair, completely unaffected by the cold that plagues so usually me, given how none of the air conditioners were built to blow his way. One of his arms hangs casually off the back of his chair, while the other nurses a warm cup of coffee. A smirk peeks through his salt and pepper circle beard.

    He is the sales manager of Epigram Books, armed with years of experience of working in the publishing industry. Due to reasons hitherto unknown to myself, Ilangoh and I are the only two people in the sales and marketing department.

    “I need you to help me out,” he says as he passes me list, transferring paper from warm hands to frigid fingers, “I’ve got a list over here...”

    I can almost hear the stock room and its spiders beckoning for me again in the background.



    Half an hour later and I am walking out of the stock room, a cramped and narrow space tucked away at the back of the office, built for the express purpose for storing our many titles as well as copious amounts of dust.

    A trolley, laden with books and cursed with squeaky axles trundles along in front of me. Dozens of books sway precariously on the bed of the trolley, having been stacked rather haphazardly in the interest of saving time. 

    I push the trolley to the other end of the office, this time without feeling the bitter sting of refrigerated air biting into my bones.

    Manual labour has its own way of warming up the body after all. 


    I sink into my chair in front of my ailing iMac, beholding a neat little stack of sales reports and invoices to sift through and upload onto the corresponding Excel sheets.

    A little quip from the mighty office manager, Boon, floats through the back of my mind at this point in time, a snarky little voice, muttering something along the lines of ‘thanks for being an EXCEL-lent intern’, right before a little rainbow ball of death pops up on the screen of my computer. 

    Yet another curse drifts past my lips in an effervescent cloud.


    I am standing in the carpark right in front of the office block. A soft, warm tropical breeze caresses my face, taking with it the last of the chill that had settled within my bones during my time inside the office.

    The door to the boot of Edmund’s car is open, swung wide, and I am loading box after box into it, each full of books pre-destined for some bazaar somewhere no doubt.

    A little vein is throbbing away in my temple once again, but this time, it doesn’t beat to the pulse of frustration. Somewhere, depe in my veins, blood is surging forwards once again, called into action after being put into dormancy by the horrible cold put forward by the air-conditioning.

    The vein throbs away, and as I shut the door to Edmund’s car and lock it with a note of finality, I find myself humming the chorus to some pop song whose title I can barely remember.


    One more minute to go. The edge of my vision is turning blurry, and a small part of me wonders why everything seems to have taken on a chilly shade of blue. I rub my palms together, the action sending bits of hoarfrost to the floor, where they dissipate into tiny little spools of ice water.

    I feel my teeth rattling in their roots, my jaw shaking involuntarily of its own accord. The howl of the air-conditioning system is all I hear now, and it is jeering at me, mocking my human frailty and a lifetime spent growing up in one the warmest climes in the world.

    The world slowed to a crawl around me, even as the air-conditioner’s unrelentlng assault barrages my skin, cracking underneath what has to be a layer of ice. A slurry of regrets start to bubble forth from underneath the partially frozen grey matter beneath my skull. The world gradually edges its way into darkness, but I know I cannot die here.

    It has been said that it is nigh impossible to die of hypothermia in Singapore. But still, even as I trudge from my seat to the door with shards of ice cracking and re-forming in my joints, I could not help but feel a nagging sense of unease pervade my weak but tenacious heart, that I have damnably close.

    A little part of me wonders how all my other colleagues manage to even put up with the temperature in this frigid place.


    I am off work now, far from the office and its evil air-conditioners inhospitable atmosphere, and quite thankfully, the air around here is warmer.

    There is a cigarette in my battered fingers, and I take a drag from it, letting its heat fill my lungs before exhaling it through my nose, sighing incontentment as I do so.

    “Note to self,” I find myself muttering under my breath.

    “Bring a bloody jacket to work tomorrow.’

    Singapore’s Richest Literary Prize Launched

    For Immediate Release


    SINGAPORE, 10 March 2015—Epigram Books is pleased to announce the launch of a new literary prize, the Epigram Books Fiction Prize.

    The annual prize of S$20,000 is the richest literary award in Singapore. It is to be awarded to a Singaporean, Singaporean permanent resident or Singapore-born author for the best manuscript of a full-length, original and unpublished novel written in the English language. The first winner will be announced at this year’s Singapore Writers Festival in November 2015 and have his/her novel published by Epigram Books.

    “We want to reward excellence in contemporary Singapore creative writing and to encourage the readership of high-quality Singapore literature by publishing the winning and shortlisted entries,” explains Edmund Wee, Publisher and CEO of Epigram Books.

    The competition is now open for entries. The manuscript must be unpublished and uncontracted to a publisher. Four hard copies of the manuscript and a completed official entry form should be submitted by post or delivered by hand to Epigram Books at Block 1008 Toa Payoh North #03-08 Singapore 318996. The closing date for submissions is August 31, 2015, 6pm.

    The judging panel will be chaired by Edmund Wee. The names of the other judges will be announced at a later date. For more information about the inaugural edition of the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, or for any queries, please visit

    For interview opportunities or further media enquiries, please contact or +65 6292 4456.

    About Epigram Books

    An independent publisher based in Singapore, Epigram Books is known for putting together well-designed and thought-provoking titles. It began as a division of the multiple award-winning communications design firm Epigram but registered as a separate entity in July 2011 to champion Singaporean literature.

    It is best known for the middle grade series, The Diary of Amos Lee, which has sold over 240,000 copies worldwide. Other landmark publications include translations of Cultural Medallion winners and new editions of out-of-print classic Singaporean novels.

    In 2014, a debut short story collection Epigram Books published, Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe, unanimously won the Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction. 


    Epigram Books Fiction Prize

    The Epigram Books Fiction Prize promotes contemporary Singapore creative writing and rewards excellence in Singapore literature. The annual prize is Singapore’s richest literary award. S$20,000 is awarded to the Singaporean, permanent resident or Singapore-born author for the best manuscript of a full-length, original and unpublished novel written in the English language. The competition is now open for entries. The first winner will be announced at the Singapore Writers Festival in November 2015 and have his/her novel published by Epigram Books. Please download the official entry form and rules and regulations here

    Open Invite: The Finer Art of Editing

    We’re kicking off a monthly mixer called The Finer Art of Editing and all you publishing folks are invited. Renowned fiction writers, like the multiple award-winning Miguel Syjuco, will be dropping by to share their experiences in an engaging, informal and frank manner. Join us so we can all become even better editors of Singapore Stories.

    At our inaugural session, Miguel kindly spent nearly two hours chatting about his publishing journey—how his debut novel Ilustrado won the Man Asian Literary Prize in its manuscript form—global book marketing practices and even the nitty-gritty details of the editing process at Farrar, Strouss and Giroux. Plus, he fielded Edmund’s embarrassing, Prosecco-fuelled questions. 

    In March, we’ll be hosting another exciting, internationally heralded novelist. Do contact our Sales Manager Ilangoh Thanabalan at ‘’ if your publishing house is keen to join us for a complimentary evening of editing enrichment, snacks, drinks and conversations with some of the best writers in world literature.

    We'll see you here soon!

    Epigram Books’ Staff’s Favourite Books

    The Request:
    Make a list of your top ten favourite books.

    The Result:
    We are not very good with numbers.

    Some were good and stuck to the ten requested. Others, cheated with parentheses. And then, true to the love we have for books, many just could not whittle their list down. Just as we all have different favourites, we all had different ways of expressing ourselves as well so here are our lists, with parentheses, comments and all.
    Aditi’s Favourites
    Drown by Junot Díaz
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    Matilda by Roald Dahl
    High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
    Christine’s Favourites
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
    His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
    Anansi Boys (and The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere heh) by Neil Gaiman
    Ender Series by Orson Scott Card
    Chrestomanci Series by Diana Wynne Jones
    A Fractured Mind: My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder by Robert B Oxnam
    Drina Series by Jean Estoril
    To Sir, With Love by  E.R. Braithwaite
    The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
    Heart of Darkness (not exactly a favourite but a stuck in my head book) by Joseph Conrad
    Dan’s Favourites
    After the Fire by Boey Kim Cheng
    Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
    Complete Plays by Sarah Kane
    Complete Works by Harold Pinter
    One Fierce Hour by Alfian Sa’at
    The City of Forgetting by Gopal Baratham
    The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles
    The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Edmund’s Favourite Books of 2012 and 2013
    The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
    The Dinner by Herman Koch
    In One Person by John Irving
    Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
    The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
    The Infatuations by Javier Marias
    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    Hothouse by Boris Kachka
    HHhH (debut novel) by Laurent Binet
    May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
    A Hologram for a King by Dave Eggers
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
    Ancient Light by John Banville
    Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
    Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
    Ilangoh’s Favourites
    Fav African author – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.
    Book I read every Dec – Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal.
    Fav Book that was made into a Play – Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.
    Fav Singapore published book – Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story, From Third World to First.
    Fav Philosophical Book – Michael Sandel, What Money Cant Buy.
    Fav Parable – Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese.
    Fav Biography – Allan Hoe, David Stirling, the Authorised Biography of the Founder of the SAS.
    Fav Thrillers – Tom Clancy, Rainbow Six and The Hunt for Red October…I took almost four years to read the former.
    Fav Non Fiction Title – Victor Ostrovsky, By Way of Deception.
    Fav Indian Author – Arundhati Roy – The God of Small Things.
    Fav Classics – Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations and Alexander Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo.
    Fav Jeffrey Archer – Prisoner of Birth and Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less.
    Fav Author I followed and then gave up on – Richard Marcinko, The Rogue Warrior Series.
    Fav Self Help Book – Yu Dan, Confucious From the Heart.
    Fav Ian Fleming – From Russia With Love.
    Fav Mafia Themed Book – Mario Puzo, The Godfather.
    Fav Author read during my childhood – Franklin W Dixon, The Hardy Boys, think read ‘em all till 1983.
    Fav Singapore set book authored by a Caucasian – Noel Barber, Sinister Twilight.
    Fav Flawed Characters in crime literature – Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander.
    Jason’s Favourites
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    Outside the Dog Museum by Jonathan Carroll
    The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
    Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
    The City and the City by China Miéville
    The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
    The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
    Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov
    Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
    The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin
    Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
    The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh
    Corrupting Dr. Nice by John Kessel
    The Five Wonders of the Danube by Zoran Živković
    Alabaster by Caitlín R. Kiernan
    The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
    The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
    Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
    Drawing Out The Dragons: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power of Choice by James A. Owen
    UBIK and The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
    Lydia’s Favourites
    At Home by Bill Bryson
    Issola by Steven Brust
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy by  Douglas Adams
    The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
    The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
    The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    You Cannot Count Smoke by Cyril Wong
    Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb
    Mira’s Favourites
    About a Boy by Nick Hornby
    Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
    Room by Emma Donoghue
    Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke
    One Day by David Nicholls
    Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
    Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
    Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
    Ruth’s Favourites

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
    The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman
    Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
    Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Riechl
    Wild Swans by Jung Chang
    The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
    Understanding People by Larry Crabb

    Sheri’s Favourites


    Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
    Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault and Lois Ehlert
    Henri’s Walk to Paris by Leonore Klein and Saul Bass
    The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
    Wonder by R.J. Palacio
    Room by Emma Donoghue
    She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

    (NB: It’s very hard for me to whittle my list down to just these…and these are some of the ones that I am remembering at the moment…and I’m sure there will be more favorites that I have not yet read….)

    Wei-Ling’s Favourites

    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
    To the Wedding by John Berger
    Impossible Object by Nicholas Mosley
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
    Turtle Diary by Russel Hoban
    Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner
    Broken Vessels by Andre Dubus
    The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
    The Inland Sea by Donald Ritchie


    Wen Yeu’s Favourites

    Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di by David Seow
    Monsters, Miracles & Mayonnaise by drewscape
    The Girl Under the Bed by Dave Chua and Xiao Yan
    Scenegapore by miel
    Myth of the Stone by Gwee Li Sui
    真的假的阿? -几米
    一年甲班34号 - 恩佐
    妖怪模范生 - 恩佐
    The New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers
    The Rock and the Bird by Chew Chia Shao Wei
    Curious George Series

    We're on iTunes!

    Thanks to the hardwork of Aditi (Graphic Novels Editor) and Ilangoh (Sales and Marketing Manager), you can now buy four of our graphic novels, in digital form, on iTunes!

    Now available in the following 12 countries:

    Australia                         Belgium          Canada                            France
    Germany                  Japan                      Luxembourg           New Zealand
    Sweden                    Switzerland    United Kingdom          United States

    Simply log on with your iTunes account, search for Epigram Books and click “Buy”.

    Only USD$9.99!


    More about the books can be found on the individual pages below:

    Monsters, Miracles and Mayonnaise

    Ten Sticks and One Rice
    Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng


    The Girl Under the Bed
    Dave Chua and Xiao Yan

    EB Xmas Pop Up 2013

    We’re celebrating Christmas with unbelievable prices at our Christmas Pop Up Store!

    Come and do all your holiday shopping with us. It’s time to share the love of books this holiday season.

    What can you expect?

    Well, we’ve released 20 NEW TITLES since August and these include:

    - Plusixfive: A Singaporean Supper Club Cookbook
    - Five Children’s Picture Books
    - Three additions to our Cultural Medallion Series
    - Four new Literary Fiction Titles

    And many more!

    Plus, a total of 30 NOTBOOKS to choose from (Secret Santa gifts anyone?).
    P.S. “I’m Not Kiasu, I’m Singaporean” is in stock!


    Please note: All sales are on CASH TERMS ONLY


    10 am – 6 pm
    7th and 8th December 2013
    Epigram Books
    1008 Toa Payoh North
    Singapore 318996

    We hope to see you then!
    It can be a little difficult to find us to here’s some help

    Staff Picks!

    We Love Toa Payoh | Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di: At the Night Safari | Penghulu

    Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di: At the Night Safari | Only the Best! | Myth of the Stone: 20th Anniversary Edition

    Ministry of Moral Panic | The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume One | The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza | Clear Brightness

    The Good, the Bad and the PSLE | Confrontation | The Short Stories & Radio Plays of S. Rajaratnam

    The Robot in My Playground | The Crane and the Crab | Mum’s Not Cooking

    November 13, 2013 by Epigram Books Admin