Epigram Books Blog
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.
In March, we’ll be hosting another exciting, internationally heralded novelist. Do contact our Sales Manager Ilangoh Thanabalan at ‘email@example.com’ 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!
Make a list of your top ten favourite books.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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….)
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
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 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!
Please note: All sales are on CASH TERMS ONLY
10 am – 6 pm
7th and 8th December 2013
1008 Toa Payoh North
We hope to see you then!
It can be a little difficult to find us to here’s some help
Lundberg and Yee's A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha finds the titular pair of Chinese mountain pandas arriving at Singapore’s strange and wonderful Mandai Zoo. Bo Bo is excited, but Cha Cha is not, until a caring sloth shows her what being home really means.
Lundberg, also an editor at Epigram Books, is “incredibly surprised and delighted” at the nomination. He’ll next be at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) from 25 to 30 May with A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha. The expected publication date of the second book in the “Bo Bo and Cha Cha” series, Bo Bo and Cha Cha’s Big Day Out is May 2013, and it will launch at AFCC.
Here at Epigram Books, we’re especially excited about one of our latest children’s titles, A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha, as it is written by one of our own—author Jason Erik Lundberg has been an editor here since September this year!
Bo Bo and Cha Cha have come to the Mandai Zoo! Bo Bo is excited, but Cha Cha is not.
Everything here seems too strange: the other animals, the heat, and the food!
Cha Cha wants to leave—until a caring sloth shows her what being home really means.
Read on to hear from Jason about his experiences working on the book:
What was it like working on a children’s book? Was it very different from editing or writing speculative fiction, which you have previously done?
Very different indeed! Writing for kids, especially for very young kids, was a big challenge, because you have to hit all of these emotional beats with character and plot, and do so in an entertaining way, and in language that is both simple enough for three- to seven-year-olds to understand but at the same time doesn’t talk down to them.
Many people think that writing picture books is easy; you’re only dealing with 32 pages, only about a thousand words (or less) of text, but children tend to be a much less forgiving audience than adults. If you can’t grab and keep their interest with a good story and interesting characters, they’re on to the next thing straight away.
I’d written a couple of middle grade stories prior to A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha, but had never even considered writing picture books. However, when the opportunity arose, I took it as an exciting task, and actually had a great experience in doing so. Crucial to this as well was working with editor Sheri Tan, who has years of experience editing children’s books; after I’d come up with the basic story, we worked together closely to shape it into something that was compelling and meaningful, and also fun to read.
What was your process working with illustrator Patrick Yee? For instance, did his illustrations come first, or did he base them on your writing? Did you work collaboratively?
Patrick actually approached Epigram Books with the premise of the pandas coming to the zoo, as well as some initial illustrations, back in April or May, so I had some preliminary visuals to work with in my head. But in terms of story, I basically started from scratch, turning it from a concept that was more appropriate for a baby board book into a proper picture book with some emotional complexity.
Once Sheri and I had finalised the text, she sent the story to Patrick so that he could illustrate the pages based on her proposed layout. There was again some back-and-forth between him and Sheri about the artwork, and once that was all finished, everything was sent to our designer Andy Koh for the final publication layout.
Is there anything in particular you hope kids (or, in fact, any readers) will take away from the book?
At its heart, the book is about the experience of migrating to a new home, and having to deal with a different environment and culture, as well as the inevitable homesickness. It’s very much based on my own journey from the US to Singapore back in 2007, and all of the culture shock that arose from relocating to a country very different from my own. Many of Cha Cha’s complaints in the book—Singapore is too hot, the food is weird, the people behave strangely—were my own at the time.
But what I hope that kids, as well as older readers, will take away from the book is that, even if moving to a new place is a disruptive and disorienting experience, it is possible to feel at home there. That homesickness can feel horrible and never-ending at first, but that it will dissipate, and things will get better. People are surprisingly resilient and adaptable, especially children.
Jason reads his book with his daughter Anya.
Did you learn anything interesting or amusing about pandas in the process of writing the book? Did you have to do a lot of research on them?
I did some research on pandas before I started writing, but because we were on such a tight timeline, I wasn’t able to do as much as I would have liked. Regardless, what I found was fascinating. Many pandas are quite solitary creatures, and prefer to have lots of time to themselves; as an introvert, this appealed to me greatly, and I projected much of this temperament into Cha Cha’s personality. They can also be playful and gregarious, and so I steered Bo Bo’s character in this direction to show the contrast between the two of them.
Also, even though pandas’ digestive systems can accommodate different types of foods, including fruits and even meat (they’re actually classified as carnivores), they choose to solely eat bamboo; and because bamboo can only give them limited amounts of energy, they have to eat massive amounts of it. This seems counter-intuitive to survival, but since pandas appear happy to hang out in the mountains of China, where bamboo is plentiful, there’s no need to vary their diet.
What’s next for Bo Bo and Cha Cha? Can you give us any hints about their next adventures in Singapore?
A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha is the first book in a planned series about the pandas’ new experiences, and the next three books have already been outlined; now I just need to write them! And that’s all I’ll reveal for now.
A New Home for Bo Bo and Cha Cha is available in all good bookstores. Check out the book page and view sample pages on our website. You can also visit author Jason Erik Lundberg’s website and illustrator Patrick Yee’s website to find out more about their work!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Call for Submissions for Reprint Anthology Series
Singapore, 8/10/2012 — Epigram Books and editor Jason Erik Lundberg are excited to announce the premiere volume of Best New Singaporean Short Stories, a new biennial anthology series of Singaporean short fiction, with an expected publication date of May 2013.
“We have wanted to put together this series for a long time,” said Epigram Books publisher Edmund Wee. “It is important to collect and promote the excellent new short fiction being published by Singaporean writers, and no one else in Singapore has yet done so in this way.”
Epigram Books is now considering nominations from periodical editors and book publishers who have published English-language stories by Singaporean writers, both in Singapore and abroad. Authors must be Singaporean citizens or permanent residents.
The original appearance of the nominated stories is required to have been published in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, or collections (both in print and online) between January 2011 and December 2012; OR achieved prize placement (third place or above) in a national/international writing competition. There are no restrictions on genre or subject matter.
Submissions are open until 31 December 2012. Full submission guidelines are available here.
For further information or queries, contact:
Jason Erik Lundberg | Editor, Epigram Books
firstname.lastname@example.org | +65-6292-4456
In this week’s installment of A Day in the Life we hear from Jason, another valuable and recent addition to our editorial team. A published author, editor, teacher and small-press owner, Jason brings to Epigram Books a wealth of literary experience.
The life of a book editor was always something very mysterious to me growing up and reading fiction, and then still later after becoming an author myself (you can find me online at JasonLundberg.net). What power those people must have, I thought, and what fun. They are the ones who determine what books get published, and they get to include their fundamental love of reading and books into their daily job.
After a month as one of Epigram Books’ newest editors, I can say that much of the mystery has fallen away, but the passion remains. I had editing and publishing experience as an anthologist prior to being hired—Scattered, Covered, Smothered (Two Cranes Press, 2004), A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (Two Cranes Press, 2008) and Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction (Math Paper Press, 2012)—but acquiring and editing books as a house editor is a completely different animal.
Our fiction publishing line has thus far largely consisted of reprinting older works, of bringing them back into the public consciousness after years of being out of print, which is a noble endeavor; but our publisher, Edmund Wee, is also eager to release new and original titles, to show that Epigram Books is committed to championing the best new Singaporean writing in English. And that’s where I come in.
So far, I’ve mostly been working on titles that Epigram Books has already acquired, and shepherding them into shape for publication in 2013. I’m working with authors of both novels and short story collections of the literary variety, although I’m also very interested in speculative fiction as well (since that is my specialty), and hope to start bringing in more SF to our stable as well (submission guidelines are here).
One of the unexpected benefits of this job has been the projects that have come up because of an immediate need to be filled. This has resulted in me writing a children’s picture book about the pandas who have just arrived at the Singapore Zoo, and curating a biennial anthology series of best new Singaporean short stories. Both of these projects are stretching me as a writer and editor, and likely would not have happened if I were not in the right place at the right time.
I’m part-time at Epigram Books, meaning that I only work mornings. My days consist of emailing the authors with whom I’m working to ensure that everything is coming in on time and to our satisfaction, editing the text in Microsoft Word (thank goodness for change tracking), reading and assessing other manuscripts that have been sent in over the transom for quality and marketability, drawing up author contracts based on our standard template, applying for publication grants from the National Arts Council, and meeting with the rest of the editorial staff to discuss our production timelines.
In the afternoons, I’m free to work on freelance projects, and to get my own novel into decent shape (I finished writing it in August, and have just completed my own second editing pass; I hope to have it ready for first readers by end of October). It’s a situation that has worked very well for me so far, enabling some steady income but still giving me time to pursue my own creative passions. I’ll be appearing in my authorial capacity at the Singapore Writers Festival in November.
I have to give many thanks to Edmund Wee for recognising my potential as a book editor and bringing me aboard Epigram Books. It’s a relationship that I hope will continue for many years to come!