For the record – Jan 2017
A list 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: email us at the usual address. We reserve the right to reject publications we feel are inappropriate for this column.
Loud Poems for a Very Obliging Audience by Ng Yi-Sheng (Math Paper Press, 128 pages, SGD 16). In Ng's first poetry collection since his Singapore Literature Prize-winning debut last boy (2006), the writer collects some of his best and most notorious spoken word pieces, some dating as far back as 1999. Though perhaps not as potent as when performed by Ng himself, these verses are still sure to leap off the page. Ng's poem "Boogie" was published in our Oct 2005 issue.
A Luxury We Must Afford, edited by Christine Chia, Joshua Ip and Cheryl Julia Wee (Math Paper Press, 168 pages, SGD 19). Back in 2015 (ah, those innocent days…), the anthology A Luxury We Cannot Afford – titled after Lee Kuan Yew's 1969 assertion that "poetry is a luxury we cannot afford" – examined the Man, the myth, the Marxist conspiracy. Now, the Man is dead, but poetry lives on. This follow-up sees contributors imagine the Singapore of the future as we march onwards to SG100 and beyond.
Grace Chia, whose debut poetry collection womango was released back in 1998, has been on something of a publishing spree recently. She's just published her debut novel The Wanderlusters (listed in our last issue), and has now also authored a short story collection and edited a prose anthology.
Every Moving Thing That Lives Shall Be Food (Math Paper Press, 272 pages, SGD 19) has a title taken from a verse from Genesis, and tackles the themes of culture shock, alienation, and hunger in all forms. Chia's short story "The Elephantine Apple" was published in our Oct 2014 issue.
We R Family (Math Paper Press, 130 pages, SGD 19) features eight stories about families biological, circumstantial and non-traditional, and is in part a response to the 2014 controversy in which the National Library Board withdrew two children's books featuring same-sex couples, saying in a statement that it takes "a pro-family and cautious approach in identifying titles for our young visitors".
Tweet by Isa Kamari (Kitaab International, 80 pages, SGD 15) is the first work in English by Cultural Medallion recipient Isa Kamari, acclaimed for his Malay-language novels, short stories and poems. Set in Jurong Bird Park, it sees a grandfather and his grandchild contemplate modern life and human existence, while their feathered friends get into a twitter about Simurg, the legendary bird from Iranian mythology who has witnessed the end of the world three times over.
BooksActually's Gold Standard 2016 (Math Paper Press, 350 pages, SGD 22) is the first of what is intended to be an annual anthology series. Edited by Australian writer Julie Koh, it features short fiction "by the best cult writers of East Asia, Southeast Asia and the diaspora". Contributors include Singaporean writers Balli Kaur Jaswal, Jing-Jing Lee and Cyril Wong.
The Desire for Elsewhere by Agnes Chew (Math Paper Press, 124 pages, SGD 19). In a collection of travel essays, Chew contemplates past, future and parallel planets as she crosses continents and explores the cities of the interior. An alum of the National Arts Council's Mentor Access Project 2014, Chew is a former civil servant who is currently pursuing a master's in international development at the London School of Economics.
Faith Ng: Plays Volume 1 by Faith Ng (Checkpoint Theatre, 360 pages, SGD 29.90). In what promises to be the first of several volumes to come, eight plays by celebrated young playwright Faith Ng are collected here, including Wo(men), For Better or for Worse and Normal. The last play, first staged in 2015, is perhaps Ng's best known: centred on a pair of Secondary 5 girls, it was inspired by Ng's own feelings of inferiority after being posted to the Normal stream for academically weak students (she now has a master's in scriptwriting from the University of East Anglia).
The Resident Tourist Part 8 by Troy Chin (Math Paper Press, SGD 19.90). The latest instalment of this autobiographical graphic novel series sees our hero Troy still a fish out of water as he adjusts to life back in Singapore after a lengthy sojourn in the States. Fans of the series (and this series has something of a cult following) can expect insights into National Service, grandmother's sayings, and romantic (mis)adventures.QLRS Vol. 16 No. 1 Jan 2017