Singaporean author Amanda Lee Koe‘s debut novel about actresses in the 20th century has been picked up by major American publisher Doubleday.
Lee Koe, 30, is best known for her Singapore Literature Prize-winning short story collection Ministry Of Moral Panic, which was published by Epigram Books in 2013.
Her debut, Delayed Rays Of A Star, is set in cities such as Berlin, Beijing, Los Angeles and Paris. It follows the occasionally interconnecting lives of three actresses across the 20th century.
The book will appear under Doubleday’s literary imprint Nan A. Talese, which publishes acclaimed authors such as Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan.
“It’s surreal to be sharing a publishing platform with (them),” says Lee Koe, who is based in New York, over e-mail. “These are writing deities I grew up reading and worshipping. It’s not very elegant to say, but I feel like a wriggly tadpole next to them.”
She declines to reveal her advance for the novel, which is likely to be out in the second half of next year.
An excerpt from her manuscript won the 2017 Henfield Prize, a US$15,000 ($19,786) prize awarded to the best work of fiction by a graduating Master of Fine Arts student at Columbia University’s Writing Program.
Nan A. Talese editor Dan Meyer says: “We publish literature that we think can stand the test of time. Amanda has a very bright future ahead of her, and it would be a privilege to introduce her to American readers.”
Lee Koe says writing the novel has made her “virtually uncontactable and emotionally unavailable”.
“Everything is going to the writing. I don’t take calls, I don’t look at e-mails and I don’t use instant messaging apps.
“I had a friend who thought I had gone missing during one of New York’s winter cyclones, but I was just holed up writing with my phone switched off.”
This article originally appeared on The Straits Times.
Can’t wait for her debut novel to be published? Read Amanda Lee Koe’s exclusive series of short stories written exclusively for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore and Chanel here: