Friday, October 03, 2008

Apparently I've been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize.

My money's on Wena Poon winning ofr "Lions in Winter", but I've only just started on her book so I can't be sure. Also, why the hell didn't Cyril Wong get nominated for "Tilting the Plates to Catch the Light"? (Did he not enter his book?)

Full list (minus Chinese) here, courtesy of Sharon Bakar:

English category :

1. Last Boy Ng Yi-Sheng
2. The Lies that Build a Marriage - Suchen Christine Lim
3. Lions in Winter: Stories - Wena Poon
4. Rainbows in Braille - Elmo Jayawardena
5. Five Right Angles - Aaron Lee Soon Yong

Malay category :
1. Bila Rama-Rama Patah Sayapnya - Mohamed Latiff Mohamed
2. Anugerah Bulan Buat Bonda - Muhammad Salihin Sulaiman
3. Langau Menyerang Masjid dan Cerita-cerita Lainnya - Suratman Markasan
4. Cetusan Kalbu Seorang Penyair Peter Augustine Goh
5. Perahu Melayu Di Lautan Khulzum Johar Buang
6. Sekeras Waja Selembut Sutera Manaf Hamzah

Tamil books :
1. Pin Seat Sankar Jayanthi
2. Aayul Thandanai J M Sali
3. Naan Kolai Seyum Penkal K Kanagalatha
4. Ouyir Ourugum Sabtham Palanisamy Subramanian

3 comments:

dio said...

ST, 2 October 2008:

In a strong slate of contenders, new writers and established ones are vying for this year’s Singapore Literature Prize.

In the English category, the five shortlisted titles are poetry collections Five Right Angles by Aaron Lee and Last Boy by Ng Yi-Sheng, and short story collections Rainbows In Braille by Elmo Jayawardena, The Lies That Build A
Marriage by Suchen Christine Lim and Lions In Winter by Wena Poon.

This is in stark contrast to the last time the biennial award was held. In 2006, all three shortlisted titles in the English category were poetry collections, and all were from the same small literary publisher, firstfruits. This year, all the titles are from different publishers.

Of the five writers, Lim, a full-time writer, is probably the most prominent in the local literary scene, having won the inaugural prize in 1992. Jayawardena, a Sri Lankan citizen and Singapore permanent resident, won Sri Lanka’s Gratiaen Award in 2001, a literary prize established by Man Booker Prize-winning author Michael Ondaatje.

The Singapore Literature Prize recognises English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil literature, with 21 shortlisted titles spread across the four language categories.

The winner in each language category will receive a cash prize of $10,000. If there is no winner, a Merit Prize of $5,000 or a Commendation Prize of $1,000 will be given.

The shortlisted titles in the English category were chosen out of 18 entries submitted by publishers and authors: six collections of short stories, six poetry books, one biographical narrative and five novels.

Says the head judge of the English category, associate professor Rajeev S. Patke of the National University of Singapore’s English department: “The entries were variable in quality, ranging from the amateurish and gawky to the sophisticated, the thoughtful and the well written. On the whole, longer works of fiction were less than compelling, but then some of the collections of stories and poems were rather pedestrian.”

He adds that the shortlist was arrived at “quite quickly and unanimously among the judges” and “can stand comparison with the best from previous years”.

Still, there are enough unexpected inclusions – and exclusions – to provoke comment from literary insiders. Poet and previous prize winner Yong Shu Hoong, 41, describes the shortlist as “within expectations”, but adds that Rainbows is an unusual choice as Jayawardena, a flight instructor and retired Singapore Airlines pilot, lives in Sri Lanka and is widely considered to be a writer from Sri Lanka.

“I think this may be the future trend, as Singapore welcomes more foreigners. The definition of the term ‘Singapore writer’ will start to change soon, to include not just Singapore PRs but also Singapore-based writers who hail from afar,” he says.

He adds that he is a little disappointed by the exclusion of works by some established names, including Tilting Our Plates To Catch The Light by poet Cyril Wong, with whom he shared the last prize, and Pretend I’m Not Here by poet and My Paper editor Yeow Kai Chai.

Referring to Yeow’s book, he says: “I’m not really surprised that it was not shortlisted because while I think the book is very well written, I think it’s hard for it to find an audience. However, judging should not be about popularity and accessibility, but the art of the craft.”

Shortlisted authors Life! contacted expressed happiness, if not surprise. Says Lee, 36, a lawyer who has published a previous poetry collection, A Visitation Of Sunlight (1997): “It’s wonderful for Five Right Angles to be shortlisted with the other excellent books published in the last two years.”

Meanwhile Ng, a poet and playwright who is shortlisted for his debut poetry collection, says he is “happy, but a little embarrassed”. The 27-year-old modestly attributes his inclusion to the failure of some of his fellow writers to publish within the last two years.

He says: “I’m only in the running because authors such as Alfian Sa’at and Teng Qian Xi haven’t sent their manuscripts in for the press.”

The winners will be announced late next month or in early December.

ecnarrot said...

Dun be modest! Congratulations! Hope you win!

Ng Yi-Sheng said...

Thanks guys!