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Edmund Wee

Meet Edmund Wee. He’s candid, assiduous, and regularly starts his work day with a crossword puzzle. He also happens to run one of Singapore’s most prominent publishing houses, Epigram Books. We stopped by the Epigram office for a quick chat:

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On Singapore Literature

“Increasingly Singaporeans are looking to the literary arts as a form of artistic expressions and more of them are looking for a publisher that can help them realise their vision. I started Epigram Books when I sensed this nascent desire. Since then, it’s been my pleasure and honour to have published so many first -time authors and to see a flourishing of Singapore literature. We do not yet have an ecosystem that can support full-time authors. It is my hope that that will happen and Epigram Books is committed to the cause.”

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On Reading

“The Fountainhead was the book that got me into literature. It’s not even a very good book. It’s very misogynistic, but that was one of the first book that I read in my first year of university. Growing up, I didn’t read a lot. I came from a very poor family. So, after I read Fountainhead — the book was a required text for my psychology course — for the first time, I thought, ‘Oh, wow, so this is the power of a novel.’ Then I became interested in reading.

Eventually, the message I got from the book was (perhaps) the most important part of your life is yourself — the training of your intellect. You have to be sure your reasoning, not your emotion, guide your decision-making… and that’s guided my life.”

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On Singapore Literature

“All my life, I’ve often been seen as a maverick, a troublemaker … but that’s because I’m independent. I don’t get affiliated.

People always say, ‘Oh, you’re so anti-government.’ I say, ‘If the Workers’ Party were to become the government of Singapore, I would also become anti Workers’ Party.’ I do believe you must always question people who are in power.”