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Actress Michelle Yeoh a judge for the 2023 Epigram Books Fiction Prize

SINGAPORE – Acclaimed Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh will be one of the judges of the 2023 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, its organisers announced on Tuesday (June 7).

She joins Singapore novelists Meira Chand and Carissa Foo, as well as Mr Peter Schoppert, who is the director of NUS Press, on the panel, which is chaired by Epigram Books’ founder Edmund Wee.

The annual prize by home-grown publisher Epigram Books, now in its eighth edition, is awarded for unpublished English-language novels. The winner will receive $25,000 and a publishing agreement, while the three shortlisted entries will each get $5,000 and a publishing contract.

It was initially for Singaporeans and permanent residents, but since 2019 it has also been open to writers in South-east Asia.

Mr Wee, 69, said in a statement: “We are very honoured and humbled that Meira, Carissa, Peter and Michelle have accepted the invitation to be judges for the 2023 Fiction Prize and I believe that each of us brings a different perspective to the panel.”

Yeoh, 59, has starred in Hollywood films such as Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021) and Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022).

On the veteran action star’s inclusion on the panel, Mr Wee told The Straits Times: “Since we opened the prize up to South-east Asians, we felt there ought to be a non-Singaporean judge on board.

“And the judging panel has always included someone who, while not from publishing, is somewhat related to it – like a theatre or film person. Michelle fits the category,” he said, adding that he approached her through a relative of hers in Singapore.

“It was a long shot but I’m glad she agreed to do it.”

Submissions for the prize will close on Aug 1, and the winner will be announced in January next year. The winning and shortlisted novels will be published in the second half of next year.

Since its inception in 2015, the award has had eight winners and published more than 30 novels. The winner for 2022 was Malaysian writer Karina Robles Bahrin, who came tops for her manuscript The Accidental Malay.

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