For the record – July 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.
Love at the Gallery, edited by Ow Yeong Wai Kit and Genevieve Wong (Ethos Books for Poetry Festival Singapore, 64 pages, SGD 11.21). Art begats art in this anthology featuring 26 poems about love, inspired by artworks at the National Gallery Singapore. A project by the community organisation Poetry Festival Singapore, the publication follows an event held in February this year, in which poets such as Edwin Thumboo, Eric Tinsay Valles, Jennifer Anne Champion and Tan Chee Lay performed their poems at the museum.
UnFree Verse, edited by Tse Hao Guang, Joshua Ip and Theophilus Kwek (Ethos Books, 352 pages, SGD 23.36). 'Creativity within constraints' might well be the motto of our country's arts scene; it's certainly the theme of this anthology, which celebrates formal poetry, i.e. verse written to conform to rules regarding rhyme, metre and length. The anthology features poems drawn from 80 years of print and online material, and features a who's who in the Singapore poetry scene, as well as less obvious names such as Devan Nair (Singapore's third President) and Bilahari Kausikan (Ambassador-at-Large).
Lieutenant Kurosawa's Errand Boy by Warran Kalasegaran (Epigram Books, 336 pages, SGD 24.90). From the longlist of the ever-fruitful Epigram Books Fiction Prize comes this historical novel, which moves between the Japanese Occupation and 1960's Singapore. During the war, an eight-year-old Tamil boy is separated from his father and forced to work for the Kempeitai, where he meets Lieutenant Kurosawa and learns Japanese, martial arts and ruthlessness. Twenty years later, a young seamstress has two men vying for her attention: one a politician, the other a dockworker. The two plotlines intertwine in a story about war and heartbreak. Kalasegaran studied politics with international studies at Warwick and public policy at the University of Tokyo, and now works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
State of Emergency by Jeremy Tiang (Epigram Books, 280 pages, SGD 24.90). A finalist for last year's Epigram Books Fiction Prize, the novel follows an extended family from the 1940s to the present day, as they live through various periods of political turmoil. It's a chronicle of Singapore's leftist history, from the Malayan Emergency and the Hock Lee bus riots through to Operation Spectrum. If all this doesn't sound exciting enough already, know that this manuscript earned Tiang perhaps the ultimate badge of honour for a Singaporean artist: the withdrawal of an Arts Council grant, a distinction he shares with fellow Epigram Books stablemate Sonny Liew, now a newly minted Eisner Award winner. Tiang is the author of the Singapore Literature Prize-shortlisted collection It Never Rains on National Day; his story 'Sophia's Party' appeared in our October 2013 issue.
Between Stations by Boey Kim Cheng (Epigram Books, 272 pages, SGD 24.90). This travel memoir is really just a reprint, having originally been published in Australia in 2009. But with a new afterword and new photos, this meditation on emigration and loss is worth a second look, especially in light of the writer's recent return to Singapore (he immigrated to Australia in 1997). An acclaimed poet, Boey currently teaches creative writing at Nanyang Technological University. 'Passport, please?', his essay about giving up his Singapore passport 11 years ago, was published in our last issue.QLRS Vol. 16 No. 3 Jul 2017