Author Sebastian Sim returns to the scene with a prize-winning novel, The Riot Act


SINGAPORE — Epigram Books is pleased to announce the release of The Riot Act, the new novel by Epigram Books Fiction Prize 2017 winner, Sebastian Sim. The book is available from Epigram’s online store ( as well as LocalBooks ( It is also available at all major bookstores.

About the book

The Riot Act is a dark comedy set in the aftermath of the Little India riot. Like the rest of the country, three women are contemplating the cause and effect of the event. Hashwini wonders if she triggered the chaos. Jessica asks if she should reveal what truly happened in the ambulance ferrying the injured. Sharon thinks that the catastrophe could be what she needs to boost her political career.

The lives of these women intertwine and they become wrapped up in a web of truth, deception and political connections — present with Sebastian’s trademark comedic vein. “The truth becomes a lump of clay, to be kneaded and shaped into whichever form serves an intended purpose,” Sebastian said of The Riot Act.

“Sebastian Sim’s The Riot Act is a surrealistic retelling that strikes at the heart of cynicism driving Singapore’s culture wars ... but satire becomes brutal realist fiction when we realise the author is merely holding up a tilted mirror to everything that is wrong with our society,” Singapore Literature Prize winner Cyril Wong and judge for the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, said about the book.

According to Sebastian, the first draft of the novel was a serious narrative of events leading up to the Little India riot. “But after the first chapter, I realised that was not my style,” said Sebastian, who added that humour plays a big role in the stories he writes. “Even when discussing serious themes, the fact that it’s injected with humour makes it that much more palatable.”

“My long term goal as a writer is to build a body of work about Singapore stories,” Sebastian said. “When I was growing up, I read a lot of stories by American or British authors and I got a good feel of what life was like in the US or UK, but I didn’t find many books about Singapore. So, as a storyteller, I feel it is my duty to share with readers — Singapore or international readers — stories about Singapore. That’s my ultimate goal.”


About the Author

Sebastian Sim grew up in a two-room HDB flat with parents who were part of the pioneer generation of independent Singapore. Not one to shy away from the road less taken, he has travelled around the world to soak up different experiences and cultures, and tried his hand in diverse industries: a bartender at Boat Quay, an assistant outlet manager at McDonald’s, an insurance salesman, a prison officer in a maximum security prison, and a croupier in a casino.

He published three Chinese wuxia novels between 2004 and 2012. His first English-language novel Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! (2016) was a finalist for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize — with its second print run sold out.