Literarily Singapore

In conjunction with the 2nd Singapore Literature Festival in NYC (Sep 28 – Oct 1, 2016), Lambda Literary has just published a “Singapore Literary Portfolio.” Featuring three festival authors, the portfolio gives a taste of what the festival has in store. It begins with an interview with Jason Wee on growing up gay in Singapore (“it wasn’t uncommon for boys in my kindergarten to be interested in each other’s changing bodies, or for the neighborhood teens to show theirs off to impress us boys”), followed by the story “Disco” by Alfian Sa’at and a dramatic excerpt from “Hitting (On) Women” by Ovidia Yu.

The Brooklyn Rail also got into the action by publishing a selection of new short stories by four Singaporean writers. It is a fantastic crop of new fiction from the island-nation.


“Blood For Sale” by O Thiam Chin
They say it’s easier to drain the blood from the wrists and ankles, where it flows strong and rich, and where they heal more quickly, but of course you can cut them anywhere on their bodies, and they would still heal eventually. You can drain them all day long, and they will still live, albeit not in their best condition. There are some who do just that, draining them throughout the day, but the quality of the blood is often of weaker consistency, a lower grade, and they do not sell as well on the market. Read more.


“Says The Bells Of The Clement” by Grace Chia
He was born on the streets of Chinatown. Well, across the road at Upper Cross Street in People’s Park Complex to be exact. His delivery was performed by a midwife in KK Hospital to be precise; an impressively easy labour that lasted three hours from the start of contraction for a firstborn. Not a ragtag street urchin was Leonard Koh En, though he liked to tell people he was born in Chinatown just to test their reaction. Read more.


“The Letter” by Cyril Wong
Lies are easy when nothing else makes sense. I managed to keep to the truth once — and not just when I was idealistic and young, but until I was much older too. The truth is never complete. That incompleteness has killed me over time, I suspect. Read more.


“Crescent Lips” by Yeo Wei Wei
David Cheng saved the changes he’d made to Shan Shan’s Personal Statement and rose from his desk. He had an hour, and every few minutes he looked at his watch. Except for the plate-glass windows behind him, bookcases took up every inch of wall space. He could read something to make the minutes go by more swiftly, the kind of reading where his fingers would turn the pages whilst his head lagged behind his eyes. The cooler in the corner hummed. Read more.


Only 5 more days to the Opening Night of the 2nd Singapore Literature Festival in NYC (Sep 28 – Oct 1). Have you got your tickets yet?



Photo credit: Belinda He

About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

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