Writer Lee Jing-Jing has become the first Singaporean to be longlisted for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction, a prestigious British award for female authors.
Her novel How We Disappeared, about "comfort women" in World War II Singapore, made the list of 16 on Tuesday.
It is up against the likes of Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other, which won the Booker Prize last year; The Dutch House by former Women's Prize winner Ann Patchett; and Hilary Mantel's much-anticipated historical novel The Mirror And The Light, out today.
The £30,000 (S$53,100) prize, previously known as the Orange Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote international fiction by women throughout the world.
It will be awarded to the best full-length novel of the year, written in English by a woman and published in the United Kingdom between April 1 last year and March 31 this year.
The Amsterdam-based Lee, 34, is the first Singaporean to make the list, although British-Chinese writer PP Wong, who was born to Singaporean parents, was longlisted in 2015 for her novel The Life Of A Banana.
She says over e-mail that she was changing the diaper of her one-year-old son Dylan when she got the news from her publisher, who sounded so serious, she thought it was bad news.
"I had to ask her to repeat herself. Then the news started to sink in and I began to jump wildly up and down. Dylan got excited as well and expressed it by whacking my face with his palm.
"I feel incredibly honoured to be on this year's longlist in the company of such literary giants. I'm also glad this might give more attention to Singaporean voices in literature – we are a small island with an outsized reputation for being finance-and tech-forward, so it would be great if readers around the world were more interested in reading fiction by us as well."
How We Disappeared was Lee's international debut. It follows Wang Di, an elderly cardboard collector who as a teenager endured sexual slavery in a WWII Japanese military brothel, and Kevin, a 12-year-old boy who is bullied at school and trying to find a missing link from his family's past.
Published last year, it has had a recent resurgence on the Straits Times fiction bestseller list, on which it has charted for the past five weeks.
The Women's Prize longlist ranges from titles by award-wining authors such as Anne Enright's Actress and Jacqueline Woodson's Red At The Bone to best-selling debuts Read More – Source