SINGAPORE—August 28, 2023
Not once, but twice. With the recent announcement of their win at this year’s Living Now Book Awards, this Catholic editor pair has yet again broken a world record, becoming the first authors to have two separate anthologies clinch both the Illumination Christian Book Award and the Living Now Book Award in consecutive years.
The e-anthology, The Jesuit: Finding God in All Things, has clinched the top prize of the Gold Medal at the 2023 Living Now Book Awards under the category of Digital Media. Earlier this year, it received the crowning accolade for the same category of Digital Media at the 2023 Illumination Christian Book Awards.
Indeed, this is a repeat winning performance, following the Catholic editors’ double win for another e-anthology, titled A Given Grace: An Anthology of Christian Poems. A Given Grace also first received the Gold Medal (Digital Media) at the Illumination Christian Book Awards in 2022, followed by the Gold Medal (Digital Media) at the Living Now Book Awards that same year.
This staggering feat is unprecedented, making it the world’s first-ever—twice over—for any writer to receive both the Illumination Christian Book Gold Award (Digital Media) and the Living Now Gold Book Award (Digital Media) for two separate publications in consecutive years.
Both anthologies are edited by Singapore-based writers Desmond Francis Xavier Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé and Eric Francis Tinsay Valles.
The Jesuit is an e-anthology, exclusively created to commemorate the Quadricentennial Canonization of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola in 2022. A Given Grace is also an e-anthology, specially produced to commemorate the Philippine Quincentennial and Singapore Bicentennial of Catholicism in 2021, and was exhibited at the Catholic200SG Festival.
The Jesuit features a lustrous line-up of award-winning authors, such as Foley Poetry Prize winner Marjorie Maddox, Discovery/The Nation Award recipient Daniel Tobin, Canberra Critics Award winner Kimberly K. Williams, Eric Gregory Award recipient Sally Read, and multiple Philippines National Book Award winner Merlie M. Alunan. The contributor list also includes distinguished American poet laureates, notably Sofia M. Starnes (Poet Laureate of Virginia) and Lois Roma-Deeley (Poet Laureate of Scottsdale, Arizona).
Other renowned literary names include Paul Mariani, recipient of the Flannery O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award from the Catholic Imagination Conference, as well as Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, whose books have received first place from the Catholic Press Association. Even the famous Irish actor, playwright and director Daniel Reardon has his lyric poetry featured within the pages of The Jesuit.
Of significant importance is how the anthology was insistent on featuring authors deeply rooted in the Catholic faith, writers from several religious orders and a personal prelature. These contributing authors include: Jason Dy, SJ; Jeffrey Essmann; Gerard Garrigan, OSB; Johanna Caton, OSB; Martin M. Macasaet, SDB; and Thomas Holahan, CSP.
About the Living Now Book Awards:
The US-based Living Now Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to the year’s very best lifestyle books and their creators. We all seek healthier, more fulfilling, and productive lives, and books are an important tool for gaining knowledge about how to achieve these goals for ourselves and our loved ones.
The Awards celebrate the innovation and creativity of newly published books that can help us improve the quality of our lives, from cooking and entertaining to fitness and travel. Each year, “books for better living” are chosen for their unique ability to enrich readers’ lives and promote global sustainability. The Living Now Book Awards medalists are an exceptionally impressive list of inspiring books, a testament to the dedication of authors and publishers today.
Previous Living Now Book Award winners reflect a diverse representation of publishers and titles, such as:
- Sharing the Wisdom of Time – By Pope Francis and Friends (Loyola Press)
- What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything – By Rob Bell (HarperOne)
- God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life – By Barbara Lee (Loyola Press)
- The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times – By Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams (Celadon Books)
- How to be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad): A Creative Workbook – By Lee Crutchley (Penguin Random House-Perigee)
- Quick & Healthy: 50 Simple, Delicious Recipes for Every Day – By American Cancer Society (American Cancer Society)
- The Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking – By Dana Shultz (Penguin Random House-Avery)
- FoodWISE: A Whole Systems Guide to Sustainable and Delicious Food Choices – By Gigi Berardi (North Atlantic Books)
- Gluten-Free Cooking for Two: 125 Favorites – By Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co)
- The Infinite View: A Guidebook for Life on Earth – By Ellen Tadd (TarcherPerigee)
- Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly – By Isaac Lidsky (TarcherPerigee)
- The Call of the Wild and Free: Reclaiming the Wonder in Your Child’s Education – By Ainsley Arment (HarperCollins)
- Better with Age: The Psychology of Successful Aging – By Alan D. Castel, PhD (Oxford University Press)
- Love Your Age: The Small-Step Solution to a Better, Longer, Happier Life – By Barbara Hannah Grufferman (AARP/National Geographic)
- Heart & Home: Design Basics for Your Soul and Living Space – By Victoria Duerstock (Abingdon Press)
- Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home – By Becky Rapinchuk (HarperOne)
The full list of this year’s award recipients may be found here:
Press Quotes from the Winners:
“The Ignatian Jubilee has proven to be auspicious for writing poetry and undergoing personal conversion. Acts of thanksgiving and contemplation of God’s goodness have provided a fertile ground for creativity and spiritual growth. The introspective nature of poetry aligns harmoniously with the Jubilee’s invitation to contemplate one’s friendship with God. The anthology has been a marvelous pilgrimage of heart and soul.” — Eric Francis Tinsay Valles
“This anthology has brought together truly exceptional writers. There are the notable literary celebrities, and such singular voices from the religious orders and a personal prelature. The works scale an extraordinary range in subject and aesthetic, testament to the power of the creative imagination steeped in deep intimation with all things Godly. One encounters these writings as a poetry of particular witness. We partake of each author’s deep ideas and emotion. We are reminded of the joys and beauties of living in the presence of God’s glory. That The Jesuit won this award is a lovely affirmation of the modest, gentle work that we do. Eric and I share this with all the esteemed writers who so generously afforded us their beautiful poems. Our anthology couldn’t be more pleased to be a home for these heavenly, sublime works. And, as editors, we know we are blessed with this joy, only because of God’s grace. Always, we remain humbled. Always, we offer our thanks to God for His steady and abundant provisions.” —Desmond Francis Xavier Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
The Jesuit: Finding God in All Things
The Jesuit: Finding God in All Things is a complimentary e-anthology, exclusively created to commemorate the Quadricentennial Canonization of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola in 2022. It is freely available here:
“Teach us to give,” St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “and not to count the cost.” Both St. Ignatius and companion St. Francis Xavier exemplified this ethos of self-sacrifice all through their lives. Both took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534, part of a group well-known as comprising the first seven Jesuits. The co-founders formed the Society of Jesus, which gained approval from Pope Paul III in 1540. The Jesuit order observed the Latin phrase “Ad majórem Dei glóriam” as a principle, which translates as: “For the greater glory of God”. Both were canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622. St. Ignatius of Loyola is the patron saint of all spiritual retreats and St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of all foreign missions.
Edited by Singapore writers Eric Francis Tinsay Valles and Desmond Francis Xavier Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, this 250-page tome features 21 eminent authors from around the world, including: Angela Alaimo O’Donnell; Daniel Reardon; Daniel Tobin; David Craig; Desmond F. X. Kon (Zhicheng-Mingdé); Eric F. Tinsay Valles; Jason Dy, SJ; Jeffrey Essmann; Gerard Garrigan, OSB; Johanna Caton, OSB; Kimberly K. Williams; Lois Roma-Deeley; Louie Jon A. Sánchez; Marjorie Maddox; Martin M. Macasaet, SDB; Maryanne Hannan; Merlie M. Alunan; Paul Mariani; Sally Read; Sofia M. Starnes; Thomas Holahan, CSP.
A Given Grace: An Anthology of Christian Poems
A Given Grace: An Anthology of Christian Poems is a complimentary e-anthology, exclusively created to commemorate the Philippine Quincentennial and Singapore Bicentennial of Catholicism in 2021. It is freely available here (only fully viewed on desktop and tablet): https://www.a-given-grace-christian-anthology.com/
The Christian faith has generated a rich literary tradition. Much of its spiritual writing has been in the form of religious poetry, which has become much loved. How do you, the contemporary writer, understand the Christian faith today? Who is God to you? What are your most pressing questions, and what have been your greatest struggles and triumphs? Do you own your faith—and what does it take to devote oneself to such serious and sustained effort in spiritual writing? Let poetry embody the stirrings of your contemplative heart and mind. As Thomas Merton so astutely put it: “Music and art and poetry attune the soul to God.” The anthology title takes its inspiration from 2 Timothy 1:9: “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…”
A Given Grace is edited by Eric Francis Tinsay Valles and Desmond Francis Xavier Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé. Represented within are 100 writers from across the world, each providing their insights into different aspects of the Christian faith. A Given Grace was showcased at the Catholic200SG Festival Luminary Art Exhibition. Some of the distinguished contributors include: Andrew Lansdown; Anne Lee Tzu Pheng; Barbara Crooker; Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda; D. S. Martin; Danton Remoto; Diane Glancy; Edwin Thumboo; G. C. Waldrep; Gerard Smyth; James E. Cherry; Jane Zwart; Joseph Stanton; Julie L. Moore; Karen An-hwei Lee; Luisa A. Igloria; Marjorie Evasco; Mark S. Burrows; Maryanne Hannan; Orlando Ricardo Menes; Patrick Cabello Hansel; Paul Mariani; Tina Kelley; William Wan.
Literary Biographies of the Winners:
DESMOND Francis Xavier KON Zhicheng-Mingdé (b. 1971) is the author of an epistolary novel, a quasi-memoir, two lyric essay monographs, four hybrid works, nine poetry collections, and a guided creative journal. The former journalist has edited over twenty-five titles. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, Desmond studied sociology and mass communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his theology masters from Harvard University and creative writing masters from the University of Notre Dame. Recipient of grants from the National Arts Council and Singapore International Foundation, he has enjoyed literary appointments at the Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, NAC Gardens by the Bay Writing Residency, and NTU-NAC Creative Writing Residency. Among other accolades, Desmond is the recipient of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award, National Indie Excellence Book Award, Poetry World Cup, Singapore Literature Prize, two Independent Publisher Book Awards, two eLit Book Awards, two Illumination Christian Book Awards, and five Living Now Book Awards. He is Senior Lecturer (Creative Writing & Publishing) at Nanyang Technological University. He can be found at: desmondkon.com
ERIC Francis Tinsay VALLES (b. 1968) draws inspiration from all the places that he has called home. He has authored the poetry collections A World in Transit and After the Fall: dirges among ruins. A former journalist, he has co-edited A Given Grace, Get Lucky, Sg Poems 2015-2016, Atelier of Healing, Anima Methodi, and The Nature of Poetry. Eric has been awarded the Vermont Studio Center Residency, Centrum Artist Residency, and Wellspring House Residency, and been invited to read at Baylor, Melbourne and Oxford Universities, as well as the Kistrech Poetry Festival. His poetry has been featured in Southeast Asian Review of English, Routledge’s New Writing, and other journals. With a BS in Business Management from Ateneo de Manila University and an MA in English from the University of the Philippines, Eric received his PhD in English, with a specialization in Creative Writing, from Nanyang Technological University. His literary accolades include the British Council Writing the City Prize, Goh Sin Tub Creative Writing Prize, Independent Publisher Book Award, Living Now Book Award, two eLit Book Awards, and two Illumination Christian Book Awards. Eric is a director of Poetry Festival (Singapore).