You might well have read a fair few books by Chinese or Japanese authors. You might not have. We can agree that it is incredibly easy to dismiss literature written by non-Western authors when we are faced with the newest best seller from J.K Rowling. The case in point is that of authors in Singapore. Singaporean writers definitely receive less publicity outside of their home country, but that is not to say that you should skip over Singaporean literature when in the bookstore. Thanks to the new #SingLit campaign, there are plenty of works by new and established authors just waiting to be read. Let’s take a look at those currently on our bookshelves.
After the Fire- Boey Kim Cheng
This book beautifully charts the relationship that the author has with his native Singapore. A relationship that is at times complex and has resulted in an estrangement from his mother land, Boey explores a variety of topics that will tug at your soul. One of the most prominent is the death of his father and which he describes with a poetic resonance that will touch you profoundly.
Lambada by Galilee And Other Stories- Lee Tzu Pheng
This poetry collection comprises numerous reflections on everyday life in Singapore and how the country has become a land of paradoxes. Singapore’s most famous landmark, the Merlion, even makes an appearance.
One Fierce Hour-Alfian Sa’at
If you want to read more into how the people of Singapore feel about their homeland, this novel may well surprise you with it’s answers. Moody, angry and a little depressing, the author creates a series of poems about how Singapore has become soulless and is disappearing before his very eyes. This is expressed mostly clearly in the unobtuse ‘Singapore You Are Not My Country’.
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye- Sonny Liew
This graphic masterpiece is a biography of the Singaporean comic artist Chan Hock Chye. His work began before Singapore’s independance and is often politically centred. There are plenty of illustations and paintings in the book, making it more like a graphic novel than a work of prose. This book has reached a level of international acclaim not often awarded to Singaporean writers, so it is worth reading to see what all the fuss is about.
Ministry of Moral Panic- Amanda Lee Koe
Again, this is another novel which won plenty of prizes and has been a bestseller since it’s release. The Ministry of Moral Panic is a short story collection, which features aging pop singers, the Merlion as a lady-boy and a national icon attempting to win back his popularity by starring in a risky fantasy. Amanda Lee Koe is one to watch, if her debut is anything to go by and her short stories accurately reflect the fast-paced thrills of modern-day Singapore.
Singapore: A Biography- Mark Ravinder Frost
This book is an excellent attempt to link Singapore’s past with it’s present, thanks to some laborious work done by the National Museum. The book links Singapore’s Ming ancestry, with it’s modern setting, and traces the Japanese occupation to independance. For those who want to know more about the city that they live in, this is the book for you.
Catherine Lim-A Leap Of Love
Catherine Lim is one of Singapore’s most famous writers and she has published an astonishing amount of literature over the years. Her focus is on Chinese tradition and how it impacts on our modern lives. A Leap of Love is a curious love story which narrates a relationship through it’s ups and downs, corresponding to leap years.
Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me-Cyril Wong
Probably one of the most acclaimed writers in Singapore today, this collection blends autobiography with characters who are experiencing their own personal crises. From a girl whose neighbours vanish to a boy who sees ghosts, these tales are whimsical, poetic and showcase an incredible homegrown talent.