Ipoh-born Elaine CHIEW wins the 2008 Bridport Prize
IPOH-BORN Elaine Peckleng Chiew (also known as E.P. Chiew), who lives with her husband and two children in London, has won first prize in the 2008 Bridport Prize for her short story, “Face,” about an old Chinese woman living in London. Judge Helen Simpson says, “Dramatised in short telling scenes, alternating dialogue with the main protagonist’s observations and memories, [“Face” is] powered by real emotional honesty.” Before starting to write fiction seriously in 2005, she was a corporate securities lawyer for a New York law firm, and later for an investment bank in Hong Kong and New York. She is now working on her début collection of stories. She has had her stories published in In Posse Review, The Summerset Review, Juked, among others.
On her favourite authors: “I’m a great fan of Annie Proulx (for her subject matter, her ability to write organic, versatile, unassuming prose), Tim Gautreaux (for his storytelling skills), Kazuo Ishiguro (for his ability to delve so deep into character), E.M. Forster (for his clipped irony), Edith Wharton (for her sharp social satire and wit), Anton Chekhov (for his short stories that remain long after you’re done reading), Gabriel Gárcia Márquez (for his love of writing and the wonderment that pervades it), Salman Rushdie (for his irreverence), Henry James (for his particular brand of psychological mystery), Jeffrey Eugenides (for his storytelling skills, historical research and penchant to get the details right) and Gina Ochsner (for the ability to touch and the startling phrase that lights up her prose).”
A little bit about previous winners of the Bridport Prize who have gone on to greater things. Kate Atkinson won the Bridport Prize in 1990 with a story that went on to become the first chapter of her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995), which subsequently went on to win the 1995 Whitbread First Novel and Book of the Year Awards. Helen Dunmore was also a 1990 winner; her novel, A Spell of Winter (1995), won the 1996 Orange Prize for Fiction (the first winner of the Orange Prize). Tobias Hill, a winner for poetry in 1994 and short story in 1996, is now an established poet and novelist; he is the author of the short-story collection, Skin (1997), winner of the 1997 PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Fiction and the 1997 Ian St James Award.
Heartiest congratulations, Elaine!