Recent Awards

Kresek, Daily Life of Plastic Bags. by Cynthia Delaney Suwito. Kresek is the rustling of plastic bags in Bahasa Indonesia. It is also the title of this light-hearted wordless comic, revolving around the little movements of the plastic bag.

This book offers a fresh perspective of the plastic bag by giving the common object a face and a personality. Following the earthly adventures of the plastic bag, this book invites people to give the plastic bag more thought, connecting to it and examining its place in today’s cultures. When we have hopefully passed the plastic bag obsession in the future, this book will be a reminder of a behaviour that we once had.

Sleepy, Sleepy New Year, story and illustrations by Meng Yanan (Bronze and Sunflower Picture Book Award), translated by Izzy Hasson (Winner of the 6th Bai Meigui Translation Competition)

Vacant Steppes, by Steven Sy (September 2021), Book event at Singapore Writers Festival 2021.

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan, by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman (Winner of English PEN Translates Award)

“If you’re like me, the first thing you did before the bookshops got locked down was acquire an additional stack of tsundoku to hopelessly work your way through until society collectively got-well-soon again. The best thing I’ve come across so far is Yan Ge’s The Chilli Bean Paste Clan (pub. May 2018). Ge, an already prolific author from Sichuan, is just starting to see her work introduced into the English-speaking world in earnest. She published White Horse, a relatively slight novella, in 2014, and The Chilli Bean Paste Clan in 2018. She has a highly anticipated forthcoming novel—The Strange Beasts of China—coming out later this year. …” (Book Review by Geoffrey Waring)

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Lonely Faceby Yeng Pway Ngon, Translated from the Chinese by Natascha Bruce. (TA First Translation Prize 2019-2020 Shortlist)

Singapore, late 1980s. As women gain power and independence, what’s an insecure guy to do? Lonely Face is the story of a man on the cusp of middle age, left behind by changing times. Fleeing his crumbling marriage on an overnight bus to Genting Highlands, he tries his luck at slot machines rather than the vagaries of modern romance. This snapshot of a society in flux is a newly-translated early work by acclaimed novelist Yeng Pway Ngon, Cultural Medallion recipient and three-time winner of the Singapore Literature Prize.

Costumeby Yeng Pway Ngon, Translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang. (Singapore Literature Prize)

“Helpless before the heavens we part, what sorrow, what rage; the farewell heart clings to the drooping willow, goodbye tears splash the flowers—The old man struggles to remember the lyrics to Revisiting the Long Pavilion Willows, humming bits and pieces. It’s been too long since he’s sung anything, too long since he heard this tune…” Read the excerpt from Words Without Borders.

The Pidgin Warrior, by Zhang Tianyi, translated by David Hull

“Satiric brilliance and unusual comic verve.” — C. T. Hsia, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction

In the 1930s, wartime Shanghai is a cosmopolitan metropolis where conmen and dance-hall girls mingle with refugees streaming in from the occupied areas. One of those refugees is Shi Zhaochang.  Having read too many gongfu novels, he is convinced that only an elite martial artist with magical powers can save China.  He flees to Shanghai on a quixotic search for a gongfu master who can teach him the secret techniques that will make himself that warrior.  The fate of China itself hangs in the balance, and everyone has a scheme to save the nation, or at least get rich trying.

The Pidgin Warrior is a rollicking satire of nationalism and modernity that is remarkably relevant today.

Poems 2020, Translation from Russian, Polish and Japanese, Notes and Commentary by Roger Pulvers

The year 2020 was the year the world turned inward. We may have stayed at home, but this was a time to look deeply inside ourselves to find connections that we carry in us with all people all around the world.

The poets appearing here describe not only affairs of the heart but also upheaval and revolution, exile and betrayal, and encounters and events that are often brimming with hilarity and wit, proving without a doubt that poetry is the lifeblood of a nation.

New Books

Dinner for Six by Lu Min, translated by Nicky Harman and Helen Wang

Under the stench of factory skies, two single parents and their four teenaged children gather together for Saturday dinners. In a story about growing up and the complications of family life, two generations of lonely individuals come together against the odds, learning to love as they traverse the long and arduous journey of life.

Song of the Soil by Chuden Kabimo, translated from the Nepali by Ajit Baral

Set in the foothill town of Kalimpong in the Himalayas, Song of the Soil brings alive the story of the revolution for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the late 1980s and lays bare the many faces of violence. In doing so, it asks the vital question: Who ultimately wins in a revolution—and who loses?

Song of the Soil is a shining example of how one can write about a violent incident without recreating the violence. The author blends bildungsroman with a conflict story with great dexterity, bringing out new aspects of both forms. This book is able to make poetry out of brutal situations, but does so with honesty, humour, and gentleness.’— The JCB Prize for Literature 2022 Jury

Flowers of Lhasa by Tsering Yangkyi, translated from the Tibetan by Christopher Peacock

Flowers of Lhasa is a stark and urgent tale of four young women thrown into the seedy underbelly of a sacred city undergoing rapid change.

Tsering Yangkyi’s novel paints a vivid portrait of Lhasa, Tibet’s cultural and religious capital. This is a holy city where thousands of pilgrims daily circumambulate the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple, but it is also a modern city, with all the problems of the modern world. While immersing us in the vibrant uniqueness of Tibetan life, Flowers of Lhasa also paints a haunting picture that deals with global and timely concerns.

Letters to Jude by James Lawless

‘‘A rich Joycean novel with beautifully written passages of linguistic diversity and deep emotions full of insights.’’— Brandon Yen

‘ If every word was once a poem, then what happened? We think that we are using language while, like the ground beneath us, all the time language may be using us. In Letters to Jude, James Lawless takes us on a magical tour through the levels of language in all its glory and its slipperiness. He has at once a heightened sense of the promises of language and a deep, nagging doubt about the limits to communicability. Such is his intrepid sophistication, that he can even bring himself to doubt the very medium through which those doubts are expressed. A tour de force for the mind but also a chastening that words come from the body and return to it.’ — Declan Kiberd

The Goverment Inspector for Two Actors. Ukrainian literature master, Nikolai Gogol‘s The Government Inspector, translated and adapted for two actors by Roger Pulvers. (Published: 30 March 2022)

Arise out of the Lock. 50 Bangladeshi Women Poets in English. Translated by Nabina Das and curated by Alam Khorshed.

Celebrating International Mother Language Day and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh (Published: 21 February 2022)

‘Deftly translated into an English with fittingly South Asian inflections, this timely anthology surprises and delights. Certain themes and imagery traditionally coded feminine, such as flowers and fabric, recur with surprising and thought-provoking variations in their treatment, while frequent references to characters from Islamic and Hindu mythology point to the lived experience of a shared cultural inheritance. Though demonstrating an impressive range, with poets based in Bangladesh and abroad, writing from the full 50 years since the country’s creation, this is clearly only a glimpse at a wealth of literature which, it is to be hoped, other publishers will now be inspired to seek out.’ — Deborah Smith (Translator of The Vegetarian by Han Kang)

Raise the Bottles. Collection of Short Stories by Huang Chun-Ming, Translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt

A Platform with no Timetable. Collection of Short Stories by Huang Chun-Ming, Translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt