October 13, 2023

The Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA) will present a National Pavilion at Frankfurt Book Fair, from 18 to 22 October 2023. Titled “Small Island, Big Reads,” the Pavilion aims to showcase the best of Singapore literature to an international audience. This is supported by the National Arts Council (NAC). 

The National Pavilion is inspired by Singapore’s unique position as a multicultural hub at the crossroads between East and West. In spite of our geographical size, our writers punch above their weight to cover a wide range of important themes which plug into global narratives and have a universal resonance. Global interest in Singapore-made content has increased in recent years, and the Pavilion intends to capitalise on this more fully at Frankfurt, the world’s largest trade fair for books.

Over 200 local books will be featured at the Pavilion, covering the four national languages and including a variety of genres. The almost 20 Singaporean publishing companies attending the fair will also be joined by local writers, including Amanda Lee Koe, Felicia Low-Jimenez and Sharon Wee. Koe was the youngest winner of the Singapore Literature Prize for the story collection Ministry of Moral Panic. The collection brought her both local and international acclaim, and was followed by her debut novel, Delayed Rays of a Star, published in 2019 by Penguin Random House. The book won Columbia University’s Henfield prize, was a Straits Times #1 Bestseller, a most anticipated title by ELLE, Los Angeles Times, Thrillist, and USA Today, and shortlisted for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2017 LiBeraturpreis. 

Low-Jimenez is the co-author of the bestselling Sherlock Sam series as well as the founder and publisher at Difference Engine, a young homegrown comics publisher who recently won multiple awards, including the prestigious Book of the Year, at the 2023 Singapore Book Awards. Wee, an alumnus of the French Culinary Institute, has shared her expertise and paid homage to her childhood growing up in Singapore through her book, Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen. Both bring a uniquely Singaporean touch to the global literary scene. Low-Jimenez will be speaking at panels on publishing, while Wee will be featured in the Frankfurt Studio programme. 

Establishing Singapore’s presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair is part of NAC’s internationalisation efforts to bolster the creative economy, one of the main pillars of NAC’s newly launched Our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027). By increasing the visibility of Singapore’s authors and publishers, NAC aims to open up new audiences and business opportunities for the future and spur the next phase of development for the local literary arts ecosystem.

Ms Aruna Johnson, Director of Literary Arts, NAC, said: “Our literary arts ecosystem has matured over the years and it is timely for us to strengthen our presence on the global stage. We are excited about the opportunities that our writers and publishers will be able to access at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and look forward to their contributions in growing international demand and markets for Singapore literature.”

Frankfurt Book Fair is the hub of the international rights and licensing trade. Attracting experts from global publishing as well as partners from technology and related creative industries, it is at the cutting edge of developments in the sector.

Edmund Wee, President of the Singapore Book Publishers’ Association, said: “Frankfurt is the largest gathering of publishers, editors and rights agents from around the world. A national pavilion to showcase our literary works is a new addition and I would like to thank everyone for making this possible. I hope it will be the start of an annual pilgrimage to Frankfurt for Singapore authors and literature.”

The Singapore delegation at the book fair spans literary publishers, educational publishers, printers, distributors, and others from all sectors of the industry. As part of the new programme, SBPA has also organised a rigorous preparation process to ensure that they are well-equipped to maximise their time at the Fair. This included international networking sessions and training in areas such as IP management and rights sales.

Ng Wei Lin, Marketing & Publicity Manager, Ethos Books, who is a first-time attendee after 7 years in the industry, said: “Ethos Books is grateful to the SBPA for providing timely logistical and financial support as well as training workshops to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair this year.  The thoughtful pool of resources available has enabled us to not just participate in the Fair, but also increase staff capability to ensure that each staff is well prepared to make the most of this valuable opportunity.”