Saturday, September 19, 2009

Singapore Writers Festival 2009

THE SINGAPORE WRITERS FESTIVAL (SWF) 2009 aims to uncover new voices and reconnect with the old, making room for both mainstream and alternative literature. Several writers appearing at the festival share their thoughts on the theme, “unDERcovers,” and what they are looking forward to at the festival come October 24-November 1, 2009 with TAN MAY LEE

JOHN BOYNE: “I’ve never been to Singapore before, which was one of the reasons I was so delighted to accept the invitation. I know very little about Singapore, but I plan on reading about the city state in advance—probably some contemporary writers, too—and I’m certainly going to make time to do a little exploration of my own. Perhaps it will show up in a future novel then!”

MIGUEL SYJUCO: “I’m really looking forward to learning more about my fellow writers and their work. I am ashamed that I am not as Asian-centric as I ought to be, and I hope that the SWF in October 2009 will be another important step towards remedying that tilt. Alas, historically the Philippines has had an affinity with the United States, our former colonisers, and because I later studied in New York and am now living in Montreal, I tend to miss out on a lot of the exciting literary happenings in Asia. I’ll be attending the festival not only as a writer, but as a voracious reader as well, so I’ll be able to see both sides of what the festival is famous for doing so well. Also, I can’t wait to have a Singapore Sling at the world-famous Raffles Hotel, and eat a lot of stingray. I know I’ll leave Singapore several kilos heavier, with my notebook filled with ideas, and lugging overweight luggage brimming with books from the writers I’ll meet there. That sounds to me like the definition of a successful festival!”

SHAMINI FLINT: “I look forward to meeting book people—both writers and readers!”

MUHAMMAD HAJI SALLEH: “The better writers have always been people with alternative ideas. They urge us to return to the great tradition or to escape it. They do not go with the flow of the times, but often go against it—to remind their readers of what should and should not be. It is the alternative ideas, too, that move a civilisation, bring new colours and perspectives in interpreting new situations.”

RAJAT DAS: “At the festival, and as a consequence of it, I look forward to a change in the literary climate of Singapore.”

O THIAM CHIN: “It’s my first time participating in the SWF, and I’m really open to anything, especially meeting fellow book lovers, publishers and, of course, the more experienced writers, and maybe pick up a few tips from them. Plus my new short-story collection, Never Been Better, will be publicised during the festival, and I’m curious to see how it will be received!”

WENA POON: “Compared to festivals abroad, the SWF is special because our literary community is so tightly knit and because it is only held once every two years. So it’s like a big family reunion. You may call it the Hari Raya or Chinese New Year of the literary world! I’m looking forward to meeting old and new readers at my book launches, buying books and meeting other writers. I hope to come out of the festival with a clearer understanding of how Singapore can relate to the international literary community in the digital age.”

TAICHI YAMADA: “I’ve never been to Singapore before. I cannot even speak much English, so I’m a little worried about how well we can communicate, but I’m really excited about visiting a place I’ve never been to.”

HYEJIN KIM: “I look forward to the energy that will surely be generated by the festival and the opportunity to meet writers from other backgrounds. Being able to exchange ideas with other writers and readers should be an interesting and productive experience.”

KATE McCAFFREY: “I was in Singapore in 1989 with my parents and sister and a friend. My mother had been stationed at Changi for two years back in the 1960s, so we went on a tour down memory lane. She was overwhelmed by the changes that had occurred in the intervening 20 years or so. My expectations are that it will be even more different and unrecognisable this time round! I love the idea of promoting alternative literature—our bookshops and the general reading public are both saturated with formulaic, popular fiction that I often find uninspiring and unoriginal. I think the diversity that such a festival provides is to be commended.”

MAREE DAWES: “I’ve only been to Singapore once in 1996. I’m looking forward to seeing how it has changed, and also doing some writing while immersed in the cosmopolitan environment. One of my favourite writing techniques is placing two disparate ideas together, so a festival promoting alternative literature with writers from different cultures and a range of writing genres sounds like a very exciting place!”

Reproduced from the Singapore Writers Festival 2009 issue of Quill magazine


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to meeting Miguel Syjuco, O Thiam Chin, John Boyne and Taichi Yamada!

Friday, September 18, 2009 5:58:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home