Singapore as Art’s Treasure Island

Is this Treasure Island? Our way of introducing the art treasures of the world on show in Singapore for Art Week.

Here’s our first issue of the avenue for creative arts for 2017

A feast for the arts in Singapore this month and a lot of news from everywhere else. Lots to see and do.

See also Books Recommended for our Top Twenty for 2016. 

Our Christmas Message with our special issue in December 2016:

If you think you don’t have time to read this in your busy pre-Christmas rush around, think again! There is likely to be something in this issue that you mustn’t miss. A gift buying idea for the person who has everything? We have books to buy or recommend. Or an event you can treat yourself too. Even on Christmas Day. At the end of our second year, the avenue for creative arts celebrates with you the wonderful gift that the arts brings to us all. We are now more than a newsletter telling you about arts events in Singapore, the Asia Pacific and further afield. We are now an integral part of the CrowdHub Art platform – providing more than content for a community of arts lovers and people in the creative industries. We can help you – whether you are involved in a large or small arts group – to co-create arts events and reach out to a bigger audience. See for yourself: CrowdHub Art. Join in. Its free. It’s our gift to you this Christmas. Good news for everyone. Christmas Cheers! – Ken Hickson

Go to the Special Christmas issue of the avenue for more stories including book giving recommendations.



Mr Edmund Wee, founder of publisher Epigram Books, is putting his money where his mouth is.

In 2013, he declared his ambitions to get a Singapore book on the longlist of the renowned Man Booker Prize within five years.

But a book must be published in the United Kingdom to be eligible for the prize, which is open to English-language novels.

So on his visits to London to attend the annual London Book Fair, Mr Wee, 64, asked smaller publishers if they wanted to co-publish Epigram’s titles, but none were keen. Instead of throwing in the towel, he set up a London arm of Epigram Books last month.

“I thought maybe the only way to do this was to set up my own company, then I don’t have to rely on someone else,” he says. The small outfit consists of three people – an associate publisher, a marketing and sales staff and a publicist.

He had not planned to set it up so soon. His decision was hastened with the news in April that Singapore writer Balli Kaur Jaswal, 33, had snagged a two-book deal with international publisher HarperCollins.

Epigram published Jaswal’s earlier books, Inheritance (2016) and Sugarbread (2016). Her forthcoming third book, Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows, will be published by HarperCollins in the UK in March.

He says: “I was thinking, why don’t I ride on the coat-tails of that? The timing would be quite good.”

Inheritance, about a Punjabi family in Singapore, will be published by Epigram in London in May. The Gatekeeper, the debut novel of Nuraliah Norasid, this year’s winner of the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, is also part of the eight to 10 planned titles for the London market.

Mr Wee put in a six-figure sum into the London operations and plans to keep it going for at least two years “before we run out of money”.

“If within those two years, we see some success with a few books and some money comes in, then, of course, we will keep going.”

Epigram’s latest expansion in London is part of his larger goal of producing more quality Singapore novels. He set up the Epigram Books Fiction Prize last year to encourage writers to submit their unpublished manuscripts.

He says: “I think it is critical for countries to have a national novel that people can rally around. You need stories to bind people.”