For the record - Jan 2016
Roundup of recently published Singaporean literature, with some gossip
By Stephanie Ye
In this column, we list all Singaporean literary titles in English that have been published since the last issue of QLRS. Let us know about corrections, omissions, or titles for consideration at the usual address. We reserve the right to reject publications we feel are inappropriate for this column.
This quarter's verse offerings all come from the indefatigable Math Paper Press.
Before We Are Ghosts (Math Paper Press, 47 pages, SGD 16) is SMU undergraduate Tan Lixin's second poetry collection, and is described in its blurb as a sequel to her 2013 debut Keeping Skeletons. It explores the themes of loss and change.
Unnatural Selection (Math Paper Press, 73 pages, SGD 16) is Shelly Bryant's sixth collection of poetry. Bryant is perhaps better known for her translation work: she's translated Chinese-language titles by Cultural Medallion winners Chew Kok Chang and You Jin into English. Her latest collection falls into a genre more typically associated with prose: speculative literature.
Finally, the publisher is putting the spotlight on emerging writers with its new imprint, Ten Year Series. But to call Ten Year Series an imprint is not the full story: nay, Ten Year Series is a factory. As its website proclaims: "Everything in Singapore has a system. A format. A template. An SOP. A Ten Year Series. So why not a mindless, mechanical, rote, system for developing poetry manuscripts?" Run with military fervour by Joshua Ip, a Singapore Literature Prize winner and Young Artist Award recipient-presumptive, the project is an extension of his popular SingPoWriMo (Singapore Poetry Writing Month) initiative. In a series of workshops and bootcamps, poetry padawans test their mettle against the blades and barbs of established writers and, more dauntingly, their peers; the end result is hopefully a publishable manuscript.
The first two products are Tse Hao Guang's Deeds of Light and David Wong's For The End Comes Reaching (Math Paper Press, 53 and 73 pages respectively, SGD 16 each). A partial version of Wong's collection won second prize for poetry at last year's Golden Point Award. Both Tse and Wong have appeared in QLRS before, Tse in January 2012 with "Mrs T. Prepares Fruit" and Wong in October 2012 with "As to your skin". Tse also reviews Jee Leong Koh's Steep Tea for us in this issue.
She's taken on Indian mytho-history with her The Aryavarta Chronicles trilogy, published by Hachette India. Now, Krishna Udayasankar has cast her imagination upon Singaporean folklore. 3 (Ethos Books, 292 pages, SGD 25) is inspired by the legend of Sang Nila Utama, he of the unlikely but etymologically significant lion sighting. This novel follows the young prince and his family as a fall from power sees them take to the seas in search of a new home.
Also from Ethos is a short story anthology titled Tales of Two Cities, edited by Alice Clark-Platts, S. Mickey Lin, Edmund Price and Harmony Sin (Ethos Books, 320 pages, SGD 20). The two cities in question are Singapore and Hong Kong: an obvious pairing for a bilateral anthology, what with the similar historical and cultural backgrounds – not to mention all the banks. This anthology features twenty-three stories by contributors from the Hong Kong Writers Circle and the Singapore Writers Group.
Be a stranger in your hometown again as Troy Chin returns with another instalment of his autobiographical graphic novel series. The Resident Tourist Part 7 (Math Paper Press, SGD 19.90) sees our hero venture into the infamous Orchard Towers and its four floors... To learn more, read Colin Low's review in this issue of QLRS.
Delere Press is a small publisher conceived in Singapore but with a geographically ambiguous sphere of operations (its titles are only sold online via various international retailers). Masterminded by academic vagabond Jeremy Fernando, its mission is to "explore the relationality of thought and aesthetics", i.e. much avanting of the garde. One of its recent offerings is An Apple a Day… (Delere Press, 96 pages, USD 10), inspired by the omnipresence of a certain fruit-christened technology purveyor. It features an essay by Fernando, a short story by Julian Gough, photography by Tan Jingliang and an introduction by Neil Murphy.QLRS Vol. 15 No. 1 Jan 2016