Singaporean author is regional winner for Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Sara Adam Ang’s A Day In The Death thrilled judges with its subject and style
Published: 7:42 PM, May 15, 2014
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SINGAPORE - Author Sara Adam Ang has been named the Commonwealth 2014 Short Story Prize regional winner for Asia.

A recent graduate of the National University of Singapore, majoring in History, Ang’s tale, A Day In The Death, tells the story of someone trying to tell a story. It includes a distressingly un-dramatic suicide, facts and knowledge about Singapore in the early 20th century and the workers who built the city.

“To me, winning the Asia regional prize means three things,” said Ang in a statement. “The first is money, the second is moderate anxiety about whether I deserved it, because by my own standards I feel like I can do better; and the third is that if something I write is being seen as on the same level as actual professional writers, then maybe I could be one too!”

The Singaporean was one of five regional winners of the Prize. The others are Ugandan Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (representing Africa) with her piece, Let’s Tell This Story Properly; Northern Irish author Lucy Caldwell’s Killing Time (representing Canada and Europe); Maggie Harris of Guyana (representing the Caribbean), with Sending For Chantal; and Australia’s Lucy Treloar (representing The Pacific) with her story, The Dog And The Sea.

Each regional winner receives £2,500 (S$5,247) and the Overall Winner will receive £5,000. The five will compete with each other to become the overall winner, who will be announced in Kampala, Uganda, on June 13. This will coincide with a series of Commonwealth Writers initiatives in East Africa.

Ellah Allfrey, Chair, 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, said of the regional winning stories: “Whilst recognising craft and excellence, the judges were equally impressed by stories which transported us in place and time and thrilled us with language that felt original. In the end, the stories that impressed us the most were those that took risks – in subject and style.

“From Australia, we chose an episodic and poetic exploration of a man surviving a troubled childhood; from Guyana, a fresh telling of the familiar story of diaspora and loss. A dazzlingly accomplished, yet understated story from Ireland focuses on one girl’s private anxieties during the Troubles; the lives of history’s forgotten victims are explored in a story from Singapore; and from Uganda comes a bold, compact story about betrayal and the pull of tradition.”

Commonwealth Writers partnered with Granta magazine to give the regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online during the week from June 9.

According to Sigrid Rausing, Editor at Granta, prizes like the Commonwealth Short Story are “essential for introducing readers to emerging voices”.

Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager, Commonwealth Writers, remarked on the fact that the finalists were all women. “For the first time we have an all-female list of regional winners which includes genuinely less heard voices. Thanks to our judges and partners, we are now working to develop and promote these writers across the world.”

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