Singapore literary organisation up for UK award

The Select Centre’s co-founders William Phuan and Tan Dan Feng. — Handout via TODAY
The Select Centre’s co-founders William Phuan and Tan Dan Feng. — Handout via TODAY

SINGAPORE, March 14 — The Select Centre, a non-profit company that promotes writers and translators, could win an award for excellence at The London Book Fair.

It is shortlisted for The Literary Translation Initiative Award in the trade event’s International Excellence Awards section, which hands out nods for international publishing, academic and scholarly publishing, children’s publishing, literary translation and digital innovation. The awards are organised in conjunction with the UK’s Publishers Association.

Located at Bras Basah Complex, The Select Centre is up against The Short Story Project, from Israel, and Arabic Literature (in English) and World Literature Today — entries from the United States.

Tan Dan Feng, co-founder of The Select Centre, posted on Facebook yesterday that “barely two years after The Select Centre was officially set up, we’ve been shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Award.”

His Facebook post received 121 reactions and 17 comments from renowned Singapore literary figures such as Felix Cheong and Sonny Liew.

“We probably won’t win (the other three organisations are very strong) but I see this as vindication of my belief that translation is one area where Singapore can rank with the best in the world,” he added on his post.

The winners will be announced at the fair in an invitational event today. Different groups of judges address the nominees in each sector.

In 2015, Asymptote Journal from Singapore won The International Literary Translation Initiative Award.

The Select Centre — named after one of Asia’s most respected independent bookstores, Select Books — aims to promote understanding of South-east Asia and putting the region on the global literary and intellectual map. The Select Centre runs a year-round calendar of activities, including readings, lectures, workshops, mentorships, residencies and other development and outreach programmes to develop writers and translators and engage with schools, policy makers and the community.

Most recently, it organised an informal Commonwealth Writers Meet and Greet with two of the Commonwelath Foundation’s representatives, Janet Steel and Emma D’Costa. The session, held on March 5, was geared at allowing the public to find out more about the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and how writers and translators here can tap into their programmes. — TODAY

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