Desmond Kon’s Double Win at Beverly Hills International Book Awards

DezNot one, but two. Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has clinched the Beverly Hills International Book Award in two categories: Poetry and Visionary Fiction. The winning poetry collection is Sanctus Sanctus Dirgha Sanctus, published by Red Wheelbarrow Books, while the novel is titled Singular Acts of Endearment, co-published by Grey Sparrow Press and Squircle Line Press. This rare win makes him the first author to have achieved this double accolade.

“We are so proud to announce the winners,” says CEO Ellen Reid. “These books truly embody excellence. I would have to say this was the fiercest competition yet.” Beverly Hills International Book Awards engages a team of publishing industry professionals who judge submissions for overall excellence in book presentation, taking into consideration the writing, cover design, interior layout, and other aesthetic components that contribute to an outstanding printed book.

Some of the stellar titles this year include winners in the categories of Business Entrepreneurship with Carol Sanford’s The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Impact Investors (Jossey Bass); Historical Biography with Shawn Hoffman’s Samson: A Savior Will Rise (Harper-Collins/W Publishing Group); and Career & Motivational with Joseph and Larry Semprevivo’s Madness, Miracles, Millions (Tate Publishing).

Interestingly, two titles on Alzheimer’s have won in separate categories. Under the Medical category, there is On Pluto: Inside The Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien (Codfish Press). The other title is a memoir, Meryl Comer’s Slow Dancing with a Stranger: Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer’s (HarperOne).

Under Photography, Richard Nagler bags the top spot, with Looking at Art: The Art of Looking by Heyday Books. In Sports, Joan Steidinger takes the gold, with Sisterhood in Sports: How Female Athletes Collaborate and Compete, published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Desmond’s novel was completed during his stint as the inaugural writer-in-residence at Gardens by the Bay, with the generous support of the National Arts Council. Advance praise for the book was already glowing, with Valerie Sayers complimenting it as “utterly engrossing” and Frank Stewart calling it “narrative by a true storyteller”. Described by Yeow Kai Chai as “arguably Singapore’s first post-novel about nothing and everything”, the book was chosen as Lee Yew Leong’s 2014 Favorite Book of the Year in the New York-based portal Singapore Poetry.

In the various Fiction categories, prominent titles include winners in Science Fiction with Milo Behr’s Beowulf: A Bloody Calculus (East India Press); Multicultural Fiction with Toni Ann Johnson’s Remedy For A Broken Angel (Nortia Press); General Fiction with Darlene Quinn’s Conflicting Webs (Greenleaf Book Group Press).

“Writing Singular Acts of Endearment nearly took the life out of me,” Desmond says. “What was such a pleasant surprise was Sanctus Sanctus Dirgha Sanctus getting selected for Poetry. It’s wonderful to know the judging panel appreciated the minimalist aesthetic I was trying to frame against the ornate architecture of the sestina. I always knew the book’s conception was a quiet risk, aesthetically. That the judges were willing to give the book a chance – to sit with it, and let its soft enigmatic lines speak to them – is such a reward in itself.”

“I almost fell off my chair when I read the announcement,” Desmond says. “Book awards are totally unpredictable, but that element – the improbability of it all – is what makes it thrilling for me. It’s lots of fun. Of course, knowing the books had been picked totally made my day. I had a mango and pomelo dessert to celebrate. And a double whisky at home.”

Kitaab congratulates its poetry editor on this fabulous double win!


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