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Wesley is a filmmaker with 13 Little Pictures, whose films have premiered in festivals such as the Busan International Film Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. He has programmed films for the VIDEOvoiddeck series at The Substation and various art organisations. Wesley has also written television scripts for Mediacorp and staged plays for local theatre companies.
On the 11th of March, 2011, Yasuo Takamatsu lost his wife to the tsunami during the Great East Japan earthquake. Since that fateful day, he has been diving in the sea every week in search for her.
Compelled and inspired to share his story, I Want To Go Home is a journey from Singapore to Onagawa through the lens of the intrigued to meet him. Of unlikely friendships across borders and languages; to share a man’s loss, recovery and determination to reunite with his wife.
The novel's feature film (also titled I Want To Go Home) has also been selected for the 2017 부산국제영화제 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). This book also includes a Japanese translation by Miki Hawkinson.
"Mr. Takamatsu learnt how to scuba dive in his mid-fifties to find for his wife. I find this inspiring. Mr. Takamatsu taught me to appreciate our loved ones, what we have in life and to push on for what we believe in"
A light-hearted story, Beauty Queens of Bishan centers around stereotypical rich Indian families in Singapore, yet it does not leave out other parts of the community and how they all come together in the beauty parlours of the average-class heartland of Bishan.
In Bishan, the busiest suburb of Singapore, thirteen small beauty parlours co-exist quietly, offering haircuts, bikini waxes and facials at no-nonsense prices. All that changes when a swanky new salon opens. D’Asthetique (Beauty is Skin Deep) is run by April Chua, the stylist to the stars.
April’s plan for Bishan includes controlling her competitors through a new society, NAILSO (Neighbourhood Alliance of Independent Lifestyle Service Operators). The only person who dares to protest is the chubby Gurpreet Kaur, owner of Monty Beauty Spa. Both have clients in the upcoming Grand Glam Singapore Beauty contest.
Will April’s shoe-in Candy Kang prove yet again why she is Singapore’s sweetheart? Or will Gurpreet’s client, Tara Chopra, prove a star on stage as well as in court?
“I like to think that with every book I write, I become a better human" Akshita Nanda
Kueny isn’t much of a worrier, except maybe when it comes to her father, the Custodian of a Thousand Generations, whose soul is hanging by a thread. But when her brother, Ah Ti, inherits the throne and smashes the Watercress Elixir that preserves her family’s heavenly reign, her worries take on a whole new dimension.
Left with no choice, the siblings set out in search of a new home, embarking on a perilous journey that takes them through 14th century Majapahit and 19th century Malaya, where they encounter a dreamy prince who promises them the world, and end up in a sparkling city that will consume everything they know.
A mix of mythology, history and adventure—think Journey to the West meets Huckleberry Finn—Ah Ti and Kueny’s story is about growing up and finding a place for oneself in the world. It is also a story of Singapore, different from the one commonly told—an attempt to capture a sense of the fullness of time contained in the land and its people.
I've spent half my life wondering: why have my mutant powers not manifested yet? I recently released my first novel Land of the Meat Munchers, after many years of procrastinating. Being able to call myself a published author is a wondrous thing, and I hope to always have the inspiration to write. More than that, I hope to inspire with my writing, in the same I have been inspired by the writers I love.
Life in the HDB heartlands of Singapore can be a real bitch. Especially when everyone out there wants to eat your flesh.
It's 28 days - or at least we think it's 28 - after the zombie apocalypse. This is Jim: Ghim Moh resident, undergraduate and apocalypse survivor. Sanctuary is waiting in that hipster district they call Tiong Bahru, but there are are five million very hungry meat munchers in the way. And all he's got to fend them off is his parang (machete) and a backpack. Sure, there's Selina the crazy girl with the tattos and Raj the law graduate to help out. But it doesn't mean they cant get infected.
Welcome to the brand new city state of Singapore, where meat munchers and wayangs roam the land, and you'd better have a weapon ready. After all, when there's no more government to complain to, survival is your own problem.
“I stand and face the sea,
as the waves come crashing to the shore,
the music of the sea is thunderous and loud.
Yet I am unafraid, I chase the waves, I run about,
excited but calm, I want to explore, I only want more.”
— fifi coo, 11 June 2016
When he was 8 years old, fifi coo, a non-verbal boy on the autistic spectrum, found his voice through the collective love of a family, the patience and resourcefulness of a mother, and a simple alphabet board. The board became the interface between fifi’s thoughts and the public world beyond him. With it, he speaks poetry.
"Yesterday passed so we weather new storms,
Born in 1930 in Pasir Panjang, Singapore, Suratman Markasan completed his studies at Sultan Idris Training College in 1950, before joining the teaching service and enrolling in Nanyang University, where he majored in Malay and Indonesian Studies. He was appointed Assistant Director for Malay and Tamil studies at the Ministry of Education and lectured at the Institute of Education until 1995. He has received the S.E.A. Write Award, the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award, the Tun Seri Lanang Literary Award and Singapore’s Cultural Medallion.
Pak Suleh was the penghulu of Pulau Sebidang, one of the influential village headmen of the islands of the South. Forced to relocate to a small high-rise flat on mainland Singapore, he worries for the future of his family and yearns for his beloved island.
A powerful meditation on loss, Penghulu is a portrait of a man struggling to return to his old way of life. But can Pak Suleh thwart the plans of his son-in-law, a newly elected member of parliament from the ruling party? Will the penghulu return to his island?
Lee Tzu Pheng, Anne, born in Singapore, retired as Associate Professor in English Literature from the National University of Singapore where she taught for 32 years. She is the author of eight collections of poetry which have won her numerous awards, including the Singapore National Book Development Council Award for Poetry (three times), the Singapore Cultural Medallion for Literature (1985), the SEA (South East Asia) WRITE award (1987), the Montblanc-CFA (Centre for the Arts) Literary Award (1996), and the Gabriela Mistral Award from the Republic of Chile (1995). Lee’s poetry is known internationally and studied in university literature courses in Australia, Canada and the USA, and her work has been read over the BBC. In 2014, Lee was on the inaugural list of 108 women inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame.
Does the word "childhood" call up mushy sentiments and nostalgic memories where time has given a rosy glow to what has long gone?
This collection presents a different side to Singapore's award-winning poet who sets out to recall a real childhood, where children are not the little innocents people think all children are, and growing up is full of hazards, not the least of which is the author herself, recalling some of her experiences growing up in the 1950s.
"Poetry does not feed a physical hunger. But I persisted because of how it has allowed me to develop as a person spiritually." Lee Tzu Pheng
Justin Ker is a medical doctor at the National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore. He has a special interest in the injured brain and its damaged memories. His story “Joo Chiat and Other Lost Things” won second prize in the 2011 Golden Point Awards for fiction, and was anthologized in The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories in 2013. He received the National Arts Council’s Emerging Artists Grant in 2005.
Contemplative and filled with possibility, each evanescent story in this collection inhabits the fleeting, unrepeatable place between the falling droplets on our island of rain. A bed thief breaks into a HDB flat every day, only to steal a few hours’ rest. Singapore is interviewed as a psychiatric patient on National Day.
The Space Between the Raindrops is a remarkable collection of short stories told by a startling new voice. This book is perfect for a brief subway ride or the interval spent waiting for the bus, as well as that languid afternoon spent contemplating a thunderstorm.
Marylyn Tan is a linguistics graduate, poet, and artist interested in conditions of alienation and marginalisation. She has performed at the Singapore Biennale, the Singapore Writers Festival, SPEAK., and she has also been featured in various print anthologies, such as Rollercoasters and Bedsheets, A Luxury We Must Afford and Inheritance | The Anthology.
What do we expect of an author who is unapologetically female? What do we expect of consuming art in general? Should a work be easy, should a work be safe?
Marylyn Tan’s debut volume, GAZE BACK, complicates ideas of femininity, queerness, and the occult. The feminine grotesque subverts the restrictions placed upon the feminine body to be attractive and its subjection to notions of the ideal. The occultic counterpoint to organised religion, then, becomes a way toward techniques of empowering the marginalised.
GAZE BACK, ultimately, is an instruction book, a grimoire, a call to insurrection—to wrest power back from the social structures that serve to restrict, control and distribute it amongst those few privileged above the disenfranchised.
“You write because it’s inside you. And it hurts if you don’t let it out. And like what Audre Lorde said—I’m paraphrasing here—your silence won’t protect you. You have to talk about the things that matter to you,”
Ng Yi-Sheng is a poet, fictionist, playwright, journalist and activist. He is the second-youngest winner of the Singapore Literature Prize, which he received for his debut poetry collection, last boy (2006). His publications also include A Book of Hims (2017); Loud Poems for a Very Obliging Audience (2016); SQ21: Singapore Queers in the 21st Century (2006); and a novelisation of the Singapore gangster movie, Eating Air (2008). He also co-edited GASPP: A Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose (2010) and Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore (2013). He recently completed his MA from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing programme.
A man learns that all the animals at the Zoo are robots. A secret terminal in Changi Airport caters to the gods. A prince falls in love with a crocodile. A concubine is lost in time. The island of Singapore disappears.
These are the exquisitely strange tales of Lion City, the first collection of short fiction by award-winning poet and playwright Ng Yi-Sheng. Infused with myth, magical realism and contemporary sci-fi, each of these tales invites the reader to see this city-state in a new and darkly fabulous light.
Beneath Singapore’s sparkling veneer is a country teeming with shadows. Explore the city-state’s forgotten back alleys, red-light districts, kelongs and gambling dens with 14 illustrious writers, three of them Singapore Literature Prize winners. This exciting anthology — compiled by US-based Singaporean author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan and part of the award-winning Noir series developed by Akashic Books in New York — promises to uncover a side of Singapore rarely explored in literature.
Felix Cheong is a well-known figure in the Singapore literary scene and the author of eight books, including four volumes of poetry and two young adult novels. His third poetry collection, Broken by the Rain (2003), was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize and his collection of short stories, Vanishing Point, was long-listed for the prestigious Frank O’Connor Award in 2013. His work has been widely published in journals, anthologized and featured on radio and TV. Recently, he has also published satirical flash fiction in Singapore Siu Dai and Singapore Siu Dai 2. In 2000, he was conferred the Young Artist of the Year Award by the National Arts Council. Felix holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Queensland.
3,000 people go missing every year in Singapore. Why do they go missing? What do they leave behind?
Felix Cheong’s Vanishing Point is the first work of fiction by a Singapore writer to be inspired by real-life cases of missing persons. These stories do not speculate where these people have gone to but are a creative leap-off to explore the theme of absences and obsessions.
In the story, ‘In the Dark’, a man who is obsessive-compulsive about white cleans his wife - literally - out of his life. In ‘Remember the Wormhole of 2030’, the prime minister of a small island nation abducts her ex-lover to prevent a scandal from exploding. In ‘The 10th Floor’, a crooked accountant has to deal nightly with strangers coming to his flat asking for a floor that doesn’t exist.
These are stories suffused with a sharp sense of the surreal and the satirical, compared by writers like Daren Shiau and Boey Kim Cheng to Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. Weaving in poetic turns of phrase for which he is known for, Cheong shows us how we often reach the vanishing point in the horizon even if we may not have physically vanished.
Tales of horror have long been an integral part of Singapore’s storytelling culture, and they continue to dominate the imagination in the 21st century. But even as the horror folklore of yesteryear—along with its creatures, the pontianak and the jiangshi—recedes from collective memory, new fears have risen to take its place.
Horror strikes deepest when it hits close to home. This collection aims to uncover the secret fears that lurk within the Singapore psyche, the unspoken fears often obscured by the lights and hubbub of modern city living. Whether it is the unknown skulking out there in the shadows or the existential angst that no amount of modernity can help shake off, we remain very much captive to the dark creatures that unceasingly stalk our minds.
The 13 stories in this collection explores our discomfiture, our unease about the things we cannot see, understand or hope to easily overcome. Sometimes they are the things that threaten our humanity; yet at other times nothing appears to be of a greater threat to humankind than our very own humanity.
A housewife turns into a vending machine. Zombies are coming for tea. An unnamed narrator dreams of a cat. The Woman Who Turned Into A Vending Machine is a book on metamorphosis - metaphorical and physical, calculated and involuntary. Here is an invitation to explore how myth fits with the mundane, and how we shapeshift alongside our endlessly changing environments, muddying along life as best as we can.
"Women cannot change the structures that oppress them, so the only form of escape was to change into something else." Natalie Wang
Mabel Gan is a writer, director, and producer whose work explores the stories of young people. She is the founder of Big Eyes, Big Minds – Singapore International Children’s Film Festival and continues to produce the annual event as well as its sister film festival in St. Louis where she currently resides with her family. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Arts from Florida State University, where her thesis film, Child Bride, was a finalist at the Student Academy Awards. She wrote and directed the coming-of age feature film, Sweet Dreams and Turtle Soup, and helmed numerous television shows, including Kids United
Something made me look from the amahs to the frangipani tree in the corner. And there she was – Ying. I shivered. Was my fever making me imagine things? I needed to tell Ma and Papa right away, but at this very moment, they were at Bukit Brown Cemetery, tending to Ying’s funeral.
Ten-year-old Bee grows up sheltered and privileged in 1940s Singapore, jealous of her beautiful, perfect elder sister, Ying. When the Japanese attack Singapore, Ying is killed in an air raid at school and the family endure wartime hardship and the horrors of occupation.
But to Bee’s surprise, her sister’s love and care for her survives in an unexpected way and Bee grows to cherish the bonds that hold fast even in the face of devastating loss.
Written with humour and unflinching clarity through the eyes of a child, this coming-of-age novel is an intimate family portrait of sisterhood, emotional resilience and the people we choose to call kin.
Jing-Jing Lee was born and raised in Singapore. She obtained a master's degree in Creative Writing from Oxford in 2011, and has since seen her poetry and short stories published in various journals and anthologies. Jing-Jing's novella, If I Could Tell You, was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2013 and her debut poetry collection, And Other Rivers, was published by Math Paper Press in 2015. How We Disappeared is her first novel. She currently lives in Amsterdam.
Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked. Only three survivors remain, one of them a tiny child.
In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military rape camp. In the year 2000, her mind is still haunted by her experiences there, but she has long been silent about her memories of that time. It takes twelve-year-old Kevin, and the mumbled confession he overhears from his ailing grandmother, to set in motion a journey into the unknown to discover the truth.
Weaving together two timelines and two life-changing secrets, How We Disappeared is an evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling novel heralding the arrival of a new literary star.
AMANDA LEE KOE was the fiction editor of Esquire Singapore, an honorary fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and the youngest winner of the Singapore Literature Prize for the story collection Ministry of Moral Panic. Her working manuscript for Delayed Rays of a Star won the Henfield Prize, awarded to the best work of fiction by a graduating MFA candidate at Columbia University. Born in Singapore, she live in New York
A dazzling debut novel following the lives of three groundbreaking women–Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong, and Leni Riefenstahl–cinema legends who lit up the twentieth century
At a chance encounter at a Berlin soirée in 1928, the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captures three very different women together in one frame: up-and-coming German actress Marlene Dietrich, who would wend her way into Hollywood as one of its lasting icons; Anna May Wong, the world’s first Chinese American star, playing bit parts while dreaming of breaking away from her father’s modest laundry; and Leni Riefenstahl, whose work as a director of propaganda art films would first make her famous–then, infamous.
From this curious point of intersection, Delayed Rays of a Star lets loose the trajectories of these women’s lives. From Weimar Berlin to LA’s Chinatown, from a bucolic village in the Bavarian Alps to a luxury apartment on the Champs-Élysées, the different settings they inhabit are as richly textured as the roles they play: siren, victim, predator, or lover, each one a carefully calibrated performance. And in the orbit of each star live secondary players–a Chinese immigrant housemaid, a German soldier on leave from North Africa, a pompous Hollywood director–whose voices and viewpoints reveal the legacy each woman left in her own time, as well as in ours.
Amanda Lee Koe’s playful, wry prose guides the reader dexterously around murky questions of identity, complicity, desire, and difference. Intimate and clear-eyed, Delayed Rays of a Star is a visceral depiction of womanhood–its particular hungers, its oblique calculations, and its eventual betrayals–and announces a bold new literary voice.
Yeng Pway Ngon is a Singaporean poet, novelist and critic in the Chinese literary scene in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. A prolific writer, Yeng’s works have been translated into English, Malay and Dutch. Yeng received the National Book Development Council of Singapore’s Book Award in 1988, and the Singapore Literature Prize in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. He was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2003 for his contributions to literature in Singapore, and the SEA Write Award in 2013.
Featuring a selection of short stories written between the 1960s and 2000, this collection charts Yeng Pway Ngon's evolution in subject matter and style over time. The earlier stories, written at a time when Yeng was known for his modernist poetry, exude solitude and melancholy, and deal with themes such as the wanton rebelliousness of youth, or the poet's shuttling between death and dream.
From the 1970s onward, he turned his attention to societal concerns – depicting a lonely writer who falls in love with one of his own characters, an unhappy man yearning for life abroad who ends up in a mental hospital, an unemployed man who finds joy in his friendship with a white bird, and another, who worries that he might turn into a flower.
Other stories introduce us to a parrot who gets taken to court, an ant enamoured with his silhouette, and a disembodied mouth worshipped by the public.
Sarcastic, darkly humorous and surreal, Yeng's writing depicts everyday life in all its absurdism and glory.
"Reading and thinking is more important than writing"
Josephine Chia is proud of her Peranakan heritage. She is internationally published in both adult fiction and non-fiction. The impoverished years of her life in Kampong Potong Pasir had taught her to be resilient, to share and to find joy in everyday living. Josephine’s love for stories and story-telling developed from her gotong royong community in kampong life and story-telling evenings. Josephine spent half her life in Singapore and half in UK but now lives in Singapore. She currently nurtures aspiring writers and is Creative Writing mentor to students as well as adults on various MOE, NAC and NBDCS programmes. She has won several literary awards, both in UK and Singapore. Her books have been translated into Bahasa Indonesia and Malay.
In Josephine Chia’s new collection of non-fiction stories, the phasing out of attap-thatched villages, the largest mass movement in Singapore, is set against the backdrop of significant national events.
Weaving personal tribulations—her teenage angst—and the experiences of villagers from her kampong, Josephine skilfully parallels the hopes and challenges of a toddling nation going through the throes of industrialisation and rapid changes from 1966 to 1975.
These delightful, real-life stories, sprinkled with snippets of her Peranakan culture, reveal the joie-de-vivre of gotong royong or community spirit, despite impoverished conditions, in the last days of kampong life.
Isa Kamari is a prominent figure in Singapore’s Malay literary scene. He has gained critical acclaim for many of his works, which range from novels and short stories to poetry and essays. He is also a musician and has crafted scripts for television and theatre. In 2007, his contributions to the nation were officially recognised when he was conferred the most prestigious arts award in Singapore, the Cultural Medallion. In 1997, his short story “Pertemuan” won the Hadiah Sastera, Anugerah Persuratan, a Malay literature award given by the Malay Language Council of Singapore. His novel, Kiswah, was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2004. Isa was presented with the distinguished Southeast Asian Writers Award (also known as the S.E.A. Write Award) in 2006. He has also received the Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang in 2009.
In 2001, the prolific Singapore author Isa Kamari undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca. Two years later, he wrote a series of 100 poems based on this experience which was published in Malay as Munajat Sukma. The collection was subsequently republished as a triptych of chapbooks in 2006. Pilgrimage is a translation of a selection of these poems.
Arranged by Isa to form a sequential narrative of his journey, Harry Aveling’s English translations are a conduit for new readers into the deep recesses of the pilgrim’s mind and soul as they complete the Hajj. Through the poet’s inner responses to his faith, this collection opens up for English readers an awareness and understanding of a practising faith of a people from a different language.
Mahita Vas was born and raised in Singapore. She struggled with manic highs and depressive lows until she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of forty-one. After nearly 30 years of working in advertising and the hospitality industry in Singapore Mahita moved to Bali in 2010 where she owned and managed Villa Juno, the island’s first luxury hosted Bed & Breakfast.
A late-night call leads Uday Aurora to find Lavinia, his beloved daughter, about to meet a gruesome end. Uday wants justice. His son demands vengeance. While the comatose Lavinia's condition deteriorates, Uday learns the identity of the real culprit.Distraught and outraged, Uday must choose between justice and vengeance.
What will it take for a supremely decent man to abandon his characteristic morality to protect his family while avenging the brutality against his daughter? Especially when money buys nearly everything. Even absolution
"I was told in school that my imagination was too wild. It baffled me. You either had an imagination or you didn’t, how wild could it be? In fact, I would’ve thought, the wilder the better." Mahita Vas
Charmaine Leung is a Singaporean writer who has lived in Hong Kong for 15 years. She first became passionate about the literary arts while working as a theatre manager in the 1990s. Charmaine’s profession as a marketer and market researcher requires her to work with various cultures and engage people from all walks of life, further fuelling her interest in other cultures and societies. Her literary work focuses on human relationships, and the dynamics in these relationships brought about by change in societies.
Mummy, why do you always have to leave for 17A…
17A Keong Saik Road recounts Charmaine Leung’s growing-up years on Keong Saik Road in the 1970s when it was a prominent red-light precinct in Chinatown in Singapore. An interweaving of past and present narratives, 17A Keong Saik Road tells of her mother’s journey as a young child put up for sale to becoming the madame of a brothel in Keong Saik. Unfolding her story as the daughter of a brothel operator and witnessing these changes to her family, Charmaine traces the transformation of the Keong Saik area from the 1930s to the present, and through writing, finds reconciliation.
A beautiful dedication to the past, to memory, and to the people who have gone before us, 17A Keong Saik Road tells the rich stories of the Ma Je, the Pei Pa Zai, and the Dai Gu Liong—marginalised, forgotten women of the past, who despite their difficulties, persevered in working towards the hope of a better future.
A woman learns of a friend’s illness and wonders if she ever truly knew him. A boy who sees ghosts heeds the advice of a fortune-teller, with surprising consequences. A girl wakes up and realises everybody in her Bedok neighbourhood has vanished. From Cyril Wong, award-winning author of The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza, comes another beautiful book about characters in crisis, with two stories crossing intriguingly into creative autobiography.
One Fierce Hour is Alfian Sa’at’s first and breakout work. It was hailed as ‘truly a landmark’ for Singaporean poetry when it was published in 1998 when the poet was just 21 years old. Since, then it has been kept in print and has entered the list of canonical anthologies of Singapore literature.
The collection contains the anti-anthem “Singapore You Are Not My Country” written well before social media gave voice to dissent and different views of Singapore. Alfian remains an intelligent writer with an unabashedly social and political voice. He has written 37 plays, 3 works of prose and 2 poetry anthologies
Cyril Wong is a two-time Singapore Literature Prize-winning poet and the recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature. His books include poetry collections Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light (2007) and The Lover’s Inventory (2015), the novel The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza (2013) and short fiction collection Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me (2014). He completed his doctoral degree in English Literature at the National University of Singapore in 2012. His works have been featured in the Norton anthology, Language for a New Century, in Chinese Erotic Poems by Everyman’s Library, and in magazines and journals around the world. His writings have been translated into Turkish, German, Italian, French and Japanese.
A comedian, a nun, a reality TV star and countless others meet in a garden. This is not the start of a joke, but the beginnings of a parable. Self-justifications ensue, as well as rationalisations for what these characters are doing here. These denizens might be running out of time, while there is all the time in their Kafkaesque world, and an orchestra is playing a song nobody else may hear.
"...I’ve always been obsessive about notions of death and emptiness from a very young age, I didn’t want to give up these things even though I was happy. I just felt that they were my children. I raised them and I wanted to deal with them, but in a more positive way..”
You Jin has published more than 150 books in Chinese in Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia. These include novels, short story collections, travelogues and essays. She is the first recipient of both the Singapore Chinese Literary Award and the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award. She received the Zhong Shan Literary Award in 2010 and Singapore’s Cultural Medallion in 2009.
In this uproarious memoir, You Jin employs her wry, inimitable style to look at the parental life as she grows with her children.
Beginning with her first trip back to her in-laws' home in Ipoh, she takes us through nearly three decades to when the youngest of her three children leaves home to study overseas, unflinchingly facing the mistakes she makes along the way and the wisdom she—and they—discover in the process. Equally unafraid to acknowledge her own failings and her children's sometimes surprising insights, You Jin bares some of the deepest emotions found in any of her work, feelings that have grown out of some of the most personal observations and events.
With her usual wit, warmth and candour, You Jin finds ways to laugh—usually at herself—even after having passed through the bleakest days of severe depression. As she navigates her way through the sometimes harrowing experiences of parenthood, she discovers new sides to her children, and to herself, adding brilliant colours to even the most mundane of life's scenes.
"People's words are like a whetstone - I use them to sharpen my writing. Reading is like the oxygen that nourishes me and words are in my blood. When I write, I can feel them flowing out of me and onto the page."
Marc Nair is a poet and photographer. He is a recipient of the 2016 Young Artist Award. He has performed spoken word in solo and group performances for fifteen years in more than ten countries and has represented Singapore in international poetry slam competitions. Marc has published six solo volumes of poetry and has released another three collections in collaboration with visual artists, photographers and graphic artists. Marc was the 2016-17 NTU-NAC National Writer in Residence and is the co-founder of Mackerel, a culture magazine. He has released two spoken word albums with his band, Neon and Wonder, and has collaborated with well-known Singapore musicians such as Bani Haykal, weish and Tim De Cotta on numerous live performances. He has also worked with Lee Kin Mun, aka mrbrown, on the mrbrown show for over a decade, writing satirical audio and video sketches and songs.
Vital Possessions by Marc Nair contemplates how city-dwellers negotiate their uneasy relationship with nature in a world where growth is both man-made and natural. The jungle is always one trim away from over-running us and we are often oblivious to it. The poems question what we hold as vital amid ceaseless consumption and our urban existence.
"Don't keep your words in a closet. At some point, let them out into the world and don't be afraid of what people think of you, and of what you have."
Balli Kaur Jaswal is the recipient of The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist Award 2014 for Inheritance, which inspired a film adaptation directed by K. Rajagopal, called Lizard on the Wall. Her second novel, Sugarbread, was shortlisted for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize and the 2018 Singapore Literature Prize, while her most recent book, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick in 2018. Born in Singapore and raised in Japan, Russia and the Philippines, she studied creative writing in the United States, and has received writing fellowships from the University of East Anglia and Nanyang Technological University. Her fourth novel, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, will be published in the USA and UK in 2019.
In 1971, a teenage girl briefly disappears from her house in the middle of the night, only to return a different person, causing fissures that threaten to fracture her Punjabi Sikh family.
As Singapore’s political and social landscapes evolve, the family must cope with shifting attitudes toward castes, youth culture, sex and gender roles, identity and belonging. Inheritance examines each family member’s struggles to either preserve or buck tradition in the face of an ever-changing nation.
Johann S Lee is the author of Peculiar Chris – Singapore's first gay novel, published in 1992 when he was 21. He later wrote the sequels: To Know Where I’m Coming From (2008) and Quiet Time (2009). He studied at Raffles Institution, Raffles Junior College and King's College London. He lives and works in London.
“...God knows when it all began but I know for a fact that it didn’t begin with Samuel. Just as I don’t believe in beginnings, I don’t believe in an end, and this is one of the reasons why I managed to survive Samuel’s death...”
Funny, poignant, but always honest and thought-provoking, Peculiar Chris is a simple story about complex feelings. About coming of age. About love. About life and death. With subtlety, lucidity and quiet courage, Johann S. Lee weaves an intricate fabric of thoughts and emotions, and portrays a human experience hitherto unexplored in Singapore fiction.
Strangers give me three words and I weave them into poems.
This is the premise of my poetry. It's about trying to do someone justice even though I know next to nothing about them. Then eyebrows are raised, a small hint of a smile...
Even though these poems are written for people you have never met, you'll feel like you already know them. It's as though this book was written for you. Our longings are universal, you see. You are not alone.
Here, the weight of experiences is made vivid in spilled ink.
"I've a theory that passionate people are the most attractive people. So if you're intensely passionate about anything, anything at all, you're better than the people who laugh at you for it." Adam Tie
Kevin Martens Wong is a linguistics major at the National University of Singapore and the editor-in-chief of Unravel: The Accessible Linguistics Magazine. He won the NUS Creative Writing Competition in 2015 for his short story “A Merlion for His Majesty”, and his work has been published in Entlitled magazine. In his spare time, he also works to revitalise the endangered Kristang language in Singapore. He loves books, bicycles, cats, languages, science fiction, most marine mammals and the colour orange, and hopes to become the world’s first astrolinguist before advanced human civilisation ceases to exist in 2039.
In an alternate 1947 filled with mystical creatures, Singapuran boy-soldier Naufal Jazair is bonded to the merlion Bahana and enlisted in a war against an aggressive neighbour. Meanwhile, in a dystopian Singapore in 2047, SAF officer Titus Ang is tasked with entering Naufal’s universe and retrieving a merlion to save the future of Singapore from the Concordance, a hive intelligence that is close to consuming what remains of humanity.
Suffian Hakim has been hailed as “undoubtedly one of the most whimsical, creative and unpretentious young voices in Singapore literature” by The Straits Times. Suffian is a writer at Big 3 Media. He was previously a regional content lead at media agency GroupM and has written for television shows such as Random Island and The Noose, and for the publications Esquire and August Man. His second novel, The Minorities, was also published by Epigram in 2018.
An illustrated edition of the author’s first novel—the hilarious, viral hit Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher, in which a bespectacled boy finds out that magic is disappearing in Singapore... and has to stop it.
Harris bin Potter is an orphan who loves to play void deck football like any other Singaporean boy. But when he discovers he is a parceltongue (i.e., he can talk to boxes...er, parcels), his world changes. Harris learns about his magical lineage and enrols at the MOE-approved Hog-Tak-Halal-What School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
There, he is sorted into the House of Fandi and gets caught up in an insane adventure to save Singapore’s magical folk from being turned into kosongs.
"I do enjoy humour, but I also enjoy the deeper, greyer side of existence too. People might assume this shift in tone is my attempt at being a more serious writer, but how people perceive me is entirely up to them; I just know that I have many stories I want to tell."
Gwee Li Sui is a poet, a graphic artist, and a literary critic. His works of verse include Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems? (1998), One Thousand and One Nights (2014), The Other Merlion and Friends (2015), Haikuku (2017), and Death Wish (2017). He wrote Singapore’s first full-length graphic novel in English, Myth of the Stone (1993), which has since been re-released in an expanded twentieth-anniversary edition by Epigram Books. He recently released a Singlish translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince: The Leeter Tunku (2019). Gwee received his doctorate from Queen Mary, University of London for his study of Newtonian influence in the poetry of the long eighteenth century. A familiar name in Singapore’s literary scene, he has written and lectured on a range of cultural subjects.
This is for you,
All you bothersome people
Who ask about my next book,
Ask whether I still draw
Or write anymore.
What is my next book about?
When is it coming out?
When poets become rabbits,
You will get my next book.
Since you’re now stuck waiting,
Do spare me the pained look:
There’s more yet to learn.
When I am not writing,
I am not constipating.
That bowl of kway teow?
It is a bowl of kway teow,
Not some swirl of metaphors.
I don’t see bobbing symbols,
I don’t hear iambs or trochees.
What’s wrong with you people?
This is for you.
David Leo grew up in Singapore and, although his parents were not wealthy, considers himself blessed with a happy childhood. Leo has published works in both fiction and poetry. His short story “Soup of the Day” (from News At Nine), retitled “Bakut Teh”, was one of four works by local writers commissioned by the NAC to be made into a short film under the Utter banner for Singapore Writers Festival 2013, produced by Objectifs. Two other stories were included in MediaCorp’s award-winning The Singapore Short Story Project: “Picnic” (from Wives, Lovers & Other Women) and “The Story of a Good Man” (from The Sins of the Fathers & Other Stories).
“...if you had done it alone, it might not have been that serious. But still, skinny-dipping is taboo in our society. For Christ’s sake, do it in the privacy of your bathroom if you want to expose yourself.”
Is there really an acceptable code of behaviour by which we judge others? In this collection of distinctively Singaporean short stories we meet people we know and think we understand, but do we really?
• Ah... the Fragrance of Durians and Other Stories was first published in 1993, and in that same year was awarded the Publishers Prize for fiction.
The stories – filled with life’s many ironies – are told with remarkable credibility because they are about people whom we know too well or think we know in our very own real life experiences. Beneath the simplicity of the stories are the varied themes presented by the human psyche – themes that tell of a suppressed consciousness that often we are reluctant to acknowledge, and one that compels us, sometimes frighteningly, to confront the true meaning of life.
Robert Yeo has been described as “the most Singaporean of Singaporean writers.” He has written five volumes of poetry and five plays, dealing with issues ranging from political detention in Singapore to the Vietnam War and the Great Marriage Debate. He has also written a novel, a memoir and essays on cultural policy and theatre, compiled anthologies of Singaporean Literature, and co-written books on the teaching of Literature for secondary schools. In 1978, he attended the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and in 1995 was a Fulbright Scholar. From 1977 to 1994, he chaired two drama committees, the Drama Advisory Committee and the Drama Review Committee, which helped to develop English-language theatre in Singapore, and in recognition of his service, he was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1991.
On 5 July 1981, Sir Stamford Raffles leaves his pedestal by the Singapore River and pays a visit to Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Istana. What follows is a wide-ranging discussion, both heated and humorous , that illustrates just how very human Singapore’s two most towering figures were.
This conversation, along with the introduction of Munshi Abdullah (author of the Hikayat Abdullah), provides a fascinating backdrop for the investigation of historical authority and grand narratives.
Cheah Sinann is a former editorial cartoonist with The Straits Times, where he also produced the popular comic strip The House of Lim for eight years. His cartoon strip Billy & Saltie, which highlights environmental issues in a humorous manner, appears in The Borneo Bulletin in Brunei, and in The Daily Frontier in Bangladesh. His collection Billy & Saltie: Cool Croc was published in 2010. Visit his website at houseofcheah.com.
In one of the last remaining jungles in Singapore, an old bicycle is unearthed in an archaeological dig. Its discovery brings the elderly Lim Ah Cheng back to a time when he rode with his life on the line…
Meticulously researched by the creator of Singapore’s first daily comic strip The House of Lim, cartoonist Cheah Sinann, The Bicycle tells the tale of Toshiro Iwakura, an aristocratic, battle-hardened private haunted by his desire to cycle in the Olympics, and five-year-old street urchin Ah Cheng, who dreams of nothing more than learning how to ride a bike. Their paths cross during the Japanese Occupation, when a unique bond formed over two wheels is quickly put to a life-or-death test.
Jennani Durai is a former journalist, a VONA/Voices fiction fellow for 2016, and a co-author of the official commemorative book of Singapore’s 50th birthday, Living the Singapore Story (2015). She was selected for the Ceriph Mentorship Programme (Prose) in 2014, and won both third prize and an honourable mention in the 2015 Golden Point Awards.
A teenager discovers his grandfather's secret identity only after his death. A young immigrant to 1940s Singapore is convinced the end-times are nigh. A man is tasked with bringing the corpse of his estranged brother home from Phuket. A reporter is torn between doing her a job and respecting her friend’s privacy. From obituaries and job ads to crime reports and horoscopes,
Regrettable Things That Happened Yesterday is a collection of ten short stories connected by the motif of newspapers, and the unexpected ways they end up affecting our lives.
Daniel Yeo has always been obsessed about the deeper meaning of things, and finding the threads that run through them. He expresses those discoveries through words. In the daytime, he writes for a living. In the nighttime, he writes to live. He writes fiction so there may be some truth to his words. He studied Mass Communications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
The captain of the Titanic went down with his ship on 15 April, 1912. But thoughts have power, and those who endure in the stories of the living are said to continue to roam the world after their deaths. And so the captain wanders in search of the things he tried to find in life, and discovers his destiny intimately entwined with a painter who shares the same fate, not knowing that their paths had crossed a long time ago.
The Impermanence of Lilies is a melancholic tribute to the nature of life and a yearning for love, in a story that reaches across lifetimes, borders, and the space between two hearts.
Deepavali has never been the same since the terrible mistake Shreya made three years ago. She now dreads the annual celebration, choosing instead to be as uninvolved as possible, until she is visited by three celestial beings who decide to help her right the wrongs.
In Singapore’s answer to A Christmas Carol, Shreya revisits key events in her family’s history and catches a glimpse of their future as well. Seeing things in a new light, she comes to terms with her emotional wounds and learns the importance of keeping herself and her family whole.
Latha (K. Kanagalatha) is the author of two collections of poetry in Tamil: Theeveli (Firespace) (2003), and Paampuk Kaattil Oru Thaazhai (A Screwpin in Snakeforest) (2004). Her 2007 short story collection Nan Kolai Seyium Penkkal (The Women I Murder) won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2008. Her poems and short stories have been published in Words, Home and Nation, a multilingual anthology published by The Centre for the Arts, National University of Singapore (1995); Rhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry, published by the National Arts Council (2000); Fifty on 50 and Tumasik, published by the National Arts Council (2009); and various Tamil literary journals in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and France. Her works have been translated into English, French and German. Latha is currently the Sunday editor of Tamil Murasu, Singapore’s Tamil daily newspaper.
Translated from Tamil to English, the book begins with the story of Alyssa, who is left with her grandparents on Pulau Ubin as a child and her experience with devastating loss as an adult. Among other stories: A grandmother whose final wish is to carry the kavadi, a wife who wonders if her role is simply to cook for her family according to their needs and desires and a filial daughter caring for her terminally ill mother.
The short story is a form taken up with many local authors. One attempts to anthologise the Singaporean Short Story; featuring twenty-one stories from the likes of S. Rajaratnam, Catherine Lim, Minfong Ho, Kirpal Singh, Colin Cheong and Alfian Sa at.
Named to make a dramatic point, this anthology selects the best from each according to Robert Yeo an established name in the local literary scene. At its heart, this one story is not intended to be representative of the author s oeuvre but to discover an instance where an author infuses a story with his or her personality or unique style.
The chosen stories are also varied, individually artistically-crafted, and as a whole, display the wide-range of local stories. This way, readers can trace the development of a line of writing over several books and decades. Most importantly, the book shows the developing canon in the Singaporean short story scene and makes a stark statement: these are the twenty-one stories that should stand out and be counted.
The best short fiction published by Singaporean writers in 2017 and 2018.
The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Four gathers the finest Singaporean stories published in 2017 and 2018, selected by guest editor Pooja Nansi from hundreds published in journals, magazines, anthologies and single-author collections.
Accompanying the stories are the editor’s preface and an extensive list of honourable mentions for further reading.
Alfian Sa’at is a Resident Playwright with W!LD RICE. His published works include three collections of poetry, and two collections of plays , and the published play Cooling-Off Day. Alfian has been nominated eight times for Best Script at the Life! Theatre Awards, eventually winning in 2005 for ‘Landmarks’, in 2010 for ‘Nadirah’, and in 2013 for ‘Kakak Kau Punya Laki’ (‘Your Sister’s Husband’). In 2011, Alfian was awarded the Boh-Cameronian Award in Malaysia for Best Book and Lyrics for the musical ‘The Secret Life of Nora’. In 2013, he won the Boh-Cameronian Award for Best Original Script for the play ‘Parah’. In 2001, Alfian won the Golden Point Award for Poetry as well as the National Arts Council Young Artist Award for Literature. He has also been nominated for the Kirayama Asia-Pacific Book Prize and the Singapore Literature Prize for A History of Amnesia. His short fiction collection Malay Sketches was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize in 2013. His plays and short stories have been translated into German, Swedish, Danish and Japanese
Corridor is a collection of short stories all set in present-day Singapore. With unsentimental clarity and heartbreaking honesty, Alfian Sa’at writes about HDB dwellers – students, housewives and factory workers, whose lives begin to unravel once they discover that happiness is a fragile thing in a country obsessed with progress and success.
The characters in each story find themselves in situations that offer them a ticket to hope and change: A video camera transforms the way a resentful daughter sees her widowed mother. A married couple receives free holiday tickets just when their luck seems to have run out. A girl encounters a transvestite on an MRT train ride who tells her that she looks like a famous singer. And a man enters a discotheque after a bitter divorce and re-learns the terror of falling in love all over again.
Rich in authentic detail, with a sensitive ear for the vernacular, Corridor paints an elegiac, revealing portrait of contemporary Singaporeans who exist along the city’s corridors – haunted by lost loves, irrevocable childhoods and a deep longing to be free.
Gregory Nalpon was born in 1938 in Singapore. After attending St Joseph’s Institution, he energetically embarked on a variety of peripatetic careers: disc jockey, journalist, trade unionist and ‘gentleman of leisure’. These assorted vocations took him from Singapore to Sarawak, Northern Malaysia, Thailand and Australia. During the 1960s and 1970s, Nalpon composed numerous stories, essays, plays and novels. His short story, “The Rose and the Silver Key” was studied by thousands of Singaporean secondary school students. With Nalpon’s sudden death in 1978 at the age of 40, the majority of his writings remained unpublished for over thirty years
This long overdue collection gathers together sixteen of Gregory Nalpon’s short stories, eleven of his essays, and a selection of his sketches of life in coffee shops, hawker stalls and samshu shops. Through his writing, Nalpon poignantly records a lost, rich world: the colourful, exciting and sometimes perilous Singapore of half a century ago.
With this collection, a vital Singaporean voice is finally recovered. Nalpon’s inspired blend of close observation, legend, local superstition and peculiarly eclectic reading results in some of the most imaginative and exciting writing produced in Singapore during the 1960s and 1970s, including authentic descriptions of indigenous culture and working-class men and women rarely found in Singaporean writing of the period.
The title of the collection was inspired by an ‘Eight Milestone’ at Seletar Road, Changi Road and Bukit Timah, located eight miles from the Singapore city centre.
Yeoh Jo-Ann is the winner of the 2018 Epigram Books Fiction Prize. Formerly a features editor at SPH Magazines, she is currently a client operations director with a digital marketing agency. Her fiction has been anthologised in We R Family, In Transit and Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three.
Sukhin is a thirty-five-year-old teacher who lives alone. His life consists of reading, working and visiting his parents’ to rearrange his piles of “collectibles”. He has only one friend, another teacher who has managed to force Sukhin into a friendship by sheer doggedness.
While on an errand one afternoon in Chinatown, he encounters a homeless person who recognises him. This chance reunion turns Sukhin’s well-planned life upside down, and the pair learns about love and sacrifice over their shared fondness for cake.
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, and his first English-language novel, Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! (2016), was shortlisted for the 2015 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.
Questions abound in the aftermath of the Little India riot. Hashwini wonders if she triggered the chaos. Jessica asks if she should reveal what truly happened in the ambulance. Sharon thinks that the catastrophe could be what she needs to boost her political career.
The lives of three women intertwine when accident and coincidence collide. In Gimme Lao!-style hilarity, they become wrapped up in a web of truth, deception and political connections. This is a perceptive, fast-paced romp that asks “what if” of the riot that recently shook Singapore.
Nominated for the 2019 Singapore Book Awards, Best Literary Work
Winner of the 2017 Epigram Books Fiction Prize
" "If I do what everybody else does, I wouldn't have many stories to tell. I need to do something different."
Catherine Lim is internationally recognised as one of the leading figures in the world of Asian fiction. The prolific writer and commentator has penned more than 20 books in various genres — short stories, novels, reflective prose, poems and satirical pieces. Many of her works are studied in local and foreign schools and universities, and have been published in various languages in several countries.
Catherine Lim’s free-wheeling imagination cheerfully dispenses with all constraints to tell stories of that other world. Written with an exaggerated sense of earnestness and caution, the eighteen tales in this collection elicit in the reader the very goosebumps of terror she had herself experienced as a child listening to such tales.
As an adult, these goosebumps persist for her. However, they no longer arise from fear, but from a sense of awe and mystery that she feels when she considers this large existential question: Despite our extensive scientific knowledge today, what do we know of the supernatural? What can we know of the supernatural?
Clara Chow lives and writes in Singapore. A former The Straits Times arts correspondent, she was also My Paper’s ‘Manic Mummy’ columnist from 2007 to 2013. Her short stories have appeared in the Asia Literary Review, CHA: An Asian Literary Journal, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS) and The Stockholm Review of Literature. In 2015, she co-founded the literary and art journal WeAreAWebsite.com. Find her online at clarachow.weebly.com
What if you could dream up any building you like? What would it be? How would constructing it change our lives?
A shopping mall self-destructs, and a single mother vanishes. A tree house for orphans and old folks is torn apart by an act of mercy. The Singapore Flyer is reinvented as a political prison. In this collection of nine tales, Clara Chow examines an alternative Singaporean landscape—one that exists only on paper—and the people we might be in it. A former newspaper correspondent, she interviews nine architects about chimeric structures and sets short stories in them. A hybrid of journalism and fiction, Dream Storeys documents the voices of urban visionaries, while taking their ideas into inventive, evocative new territories.
Suchen Christine Lim was born in Malaysia but she grew up in Singapore. She is the author of Fistful of Colours, awarded the inaugural Singapore Literature Prize 1992; A Bit of Earth, shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2004; Ricebowl; Gift from The Gods and The River’s Song. Suchen was awarded the Southeast Asian Writers Award in 2012.
A mother finds out her son is gay; a daughter finds out her two mothers are lesbians; a niece stumbles upon the body of her dead uncle dressed in his wife’s sarong kebaya; and an old man’s nascent feelings for a Filipino maid lead him back to his suppressed art.
The Man Who Wore His Wife’s Sarong, Suchen Christine Lim’s short stories of the unsung, unsaid and uncelebrated in Singapore, delve beneath the sunlit island’s prosperity and coded decorum. Her characters chip away prejudice and sculpt it into acceptance of the other.
Previously published in part as The Lies that Build a Marriage (shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2008), this new collection contains five additional stories.
Inez Tan holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of Michigan, and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of California, Irvine. Her work has appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Softblow, Rattle, Fairy Tale Review and the anthology A Luxury We Must Afford. This Is Where I Won’t Be Alone is her debut short story collection. Find her online at ineztan.com.
A pair of twins tries desperately to survive their education. A sentient oyster ponders the concept of making time. An unemployed man devises a social experiment with ants. A runaway sees a vision. From the 1990’s to a future where people access information through chips implanted in their heads, from the Singaporean heartland to London, San Francisco and the moon, these stories hold in tension the strangeness of displacement and a deep yearning for connection in their relentless search for who and what to call home.