For the first time ever, 15 Singaporean writers will converge on New York City from October 10 to 12, 2014, for the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival. They will read from locally and globally inspired works in various locations around Manhattan, including 92nd Street Y, Book Culture, McNally Jackson, and NYU’s Lilian VernonCreative Writers House.
Organized by a group of book-loving volunteers, the Singapore Literature Festival aims to showcase and build awareness of Singaporean writing among readers, editors, and publishing professionals in New York. The festival provides a wonderful opportunity to hear and engage with the most distinctive voices coming out of the city-state, which celebrates its 50th year of independence next year.
Straddling vital trade routes in Southeast Asia, Singapore was brought under British control in 1819 and became independent in 1965. Its citizens speak and write in English (the lingua franca), Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, reflecting the legacies of British rule and the country’s four main ethnic communities—the Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians.
Like New York City, Singapore is an economic and cultural hub. The city is the fourth largest financial center and the third most densely populated country in the world. As a multicultural metropolis, Singapore has provided a stimulating environment for writers to explore universal themes in specific local contexts. An authentic literature has flourished, but it is mostly unknown in New York City—until now.
Nine Singaporean writers will fly to New York City from halfway across the world to join six other Singaporean writers based in the United States. Together, their work represents the Singaporean sensibility—local yet cosmopolitan. Some of the featured writers include:
Haresh Sharma has written more than a hundred plays that have been staged all over the world in cities such as London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cairo. He is the first non-American to be named Goldberg Master Playwright by New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Wena Poon, the author of eight books, has had her works produced on the London stage and serialized on BBC Radio 4. She won the UK’s Willesden Herald Prize for best short fiction in 2010.
Alvin Pang’s poetry and fiction have been translated into over 15 languages. He represented Singapore at London’s Poetry Parnassus event alongside Kay Ryan, Seamus Heaney, and Wole Soyinka.
Alfian Sa’at’s award-winning poetry, plays, and fiction have been read and performed in London, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Zurich, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Melbourne as well as in Singapore and Malaysia.
Cyril Wong is the recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize, the country’s highest literary honor, for poetry. His poems have been anthologized in various publications all over the world.
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is the author of A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family (Hyperion, 2011). She has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun, and The New York Times.
Kirsten Chen’s debut novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners (New Harvest, 2014), was featured in USA Today’s “New Voices” and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Colin Goh and Yen Yen Woo are the husband-and-wife team behind Dim Sum Warriors, a graphic novel series about kung fu-fighting dumpling that has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Time, The New York Times, and BBC. They also wrote and directed the international award-winning film Singapore Dreaming and authored the bestselling Coxford Singlish Dictionary.
The other featured writers are Christine Chia, Jason Erik Lundberg, Joshua Ip, Pooja Nansi, Tania De Rozario, andVerena Tay. For more information about all fifteen authors, visit: http://www.singaporeliteraturefestival.com/authors/
The Singapore Literature Festival is funded wholly by well wishers. A Kickstarter campaign exceeded its target by raising $7,790, with the support of 103 generous backers. Other monetary gifts made up the festival’s income. In addition, other sponsors have offered donations in kind, including Ethos Books, BooksActually, Landmark Books, University of Hawai’i Press, Ma?noa Books, El Leo?n Literary Arts, artist Boedi Widjaja, Plain Productions, Rasa Restaurant and Tiger Beer. McNally Jackson and Book Culture, two beloved New York City bookstores, are donating their venues for festival events. The writers receive partial funding from Singapore’s National Arts Council for their airfare. The fund-raising was truly multilateral.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS
The Singapore Literature Festival is conceived and planned by a group of Singaporean volunteers—writers and creatives—who are proud to call New York City home.
Co-chairs Paul Rozario-Falcone and Jee Leong Koh believe that Singapore literature deserves international recognition and readership. As the publishing center of the English-speaking world, New York City cannot afford to overlook this vibrant literature. The festival hopes to deepen the dialogue between the two cities’ distinct, yet complementary, literary traditions.
For more information about the organizers, visit: http://www.singaporeliteraturefestival.com/about/
FESTIVAL PROGRAM & DETAILS
The three-day festival offers eight stimulating literary events from Friday to Sunday, October 10 – 12, 2014.
For full descriptions of the events, please consult the appendix below.
Five of the events are free. Of these five events, three are open to the public and two (the opening and closing parties) are by invitation only. Invitations may be requested by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The three ticketed events are held at 92nd Street Y on Saturday, October 11. Each ticket costs $10. The All Day Pass to all three events costs $25, with senior and student concession at $20.
Tickets to the 92nd Street Y events on October 11 can be purchased from the center’s box office at 212-415-5500 or on-line.
Rich Words / Poor Words at 2:00pm: http://www.92y.org/Event/rich-words-poor-words.aspx
The 21st Century Family at 3.30pm: http://www.92y.org/Event/The-21st-Century-Family.aspx
The Politics of Love at 5:00pm: http://www.92y.org/Event/The-Politics-of-Love.aspx
The All Day Pass to all three events: http://www.92y.org/subscriptions/series/detail.aspx?series=1509
CONTACT & LINKS
For press-related inquiries, please contact: Kimberley Lim, Publicity Chair email@example.com
Singapore Literature Festival Friday-Sunday, October 10 – 12, 2014
Thursday, October 9, 2014
1. Singapore and Freedom of Expression: a Soapbox Series roundtable discussion at Adelphi University (Pre-Festival Event; Free and Open to All)
Alfian Sa’at, Colin Goh, Haresh Sharma, Tania De Rozario and Yen Yen Woo, moderated by Martha Cooley and Craig Carson
Thursday, October 9, 3:00 – 4:30 pm, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Friday, October 10, 2014
2. Generations and Genres (Free and Open to All)
Cyril Wong, Haresh Sharma and Verena Tay, introduced by April Heck
Since 1965, the year of national independence, Singapore literature has developed into a vibrant and diverse corpus of writings. In this reading, writers from different generations read from their work in drama, fiction and poetry, and discuss the growth of the literary tradition. The reading is followed by a book signing, and a reception hosted by Writers House.
Friday, October 10, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, 58 W 10th Street (bet. 5th and 6th Avenues), New York, NY
3. The Local Cosmopolitan (Opening Party – by invitation only)
Alfian Sa’at, Alvin Pang, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Kirstin Chen and Wena Poon, introduced by Jason Koo
Friday, October 10, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, Book Culture Bookstore, 536 W 112th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue), New York, NY
Can a writer be both cosmopolitan in outlook and local in orientation? Marking the official opening of the festival, this reading showcases work that travels between home and the world. The reading is followed by a book signing and a reception.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Guest registration begins at 92nd Street Y
Saturday, October 11, 1:45 pm, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue (at 92nd Street), New York, NY
4. Rich Words, Poor Words (Ticketed)
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Joshua Ip and Wena Poon, introduced by Rohan Kamicheril
The growing divide between haves and have-nots is of concern around the world. How does language reinforce or bridge this divide? This reading explores the relationship between class, ethnicity and language. The writers will sign books after the reading.
Saturday, October 11, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue (at 92nd Street), New York, NY
5. The Twenty-First Century Family (Ticketed)
Christine Chia, Colin Goh and Kirstin Chen, introduced by Monique Truong
From extended to nuclear to blended, the modern family is evolving in reaction to enormous social pressures and urgent individual needs. What will the twenty-first century family be like? The writers in this reading respond to the dynamics of this long revolution. The reading is followed by a book signing.
Saturday, October 11, 3:30 – 4:30 pm, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue (at 92nd Street), New York, NY
6. The Politics of Love (Ticketed)
Cyril Wong, Pooja Nansi and Tania De Rozario, introduced by Don Weise
Be prepared to get hot under the collar. This reading introduces authors whose writings revolve around love, desire and relationships. The writers will sign books after the reading.
Saturday, October 11, 5:00 – 6:00 pm, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue (at 92nd Street), New York, NY
7. Book Signing and Mingling (Entry by ticket to one of the 92Y events)
Alfian Sa’at, Alvin Pang, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Christine Chia, Cyril Wong, Haresh Sharma, Jason Erik Lundberg, Joshua Ip, Kirstin Chen, Ovidia Yu, Pooja Nansi, Tania De Rozario, Verena Tay and Wena Poon
Sunday, October 12, 2014
8. Reading Culture (Free and Open to All)
Christine Chia, Joshua Ip, Jason Erik Lundberg, Verena Tay and Yen Yen Woo, introducer to be announced
Books are mostly read in private. The sharing of books, however, builds reading communities. Through reviewing, re-imagining and re-telling, we become citizens of a republic of letters. Reading itself becomes the focus of this reading by writers deeply concerned with this most solitary of social actions. The writers will sign books after the reading.
Sunday, October 12, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Book Culture Bookstore, 536 W 112th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue), New York, NY
9. Encore (Closing Party – by invitation only)
Alfian Sa’at, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Christine Chia, Cyril Wong, Haresh Sharma, Jason Erik Lundberg, Joshua Ip, Pooja Nansi, Tania De Rozario, Verena Tay and Wena Poon, introducer to be announced
Literature has its roots in the oral tradition, in song, gossip, lullaby, and prayer. This reading returns the written word to its magical, hopeful and inspirational spoken origins. The reading is followed by a book signing and a reception.
Sunday, October 12, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, McNally Jackson Bookstore, 52 Prince Street (bet. Lafayette and Mulberry Streets), New York, NY