#GlobalPRIDELitMonth: Singapore’s #ownvoices

To encounter what is right and wrong about Singapore, read our literature.

Cyril Wong

In celebration of #GlobalPRIDELitMonth at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, explore this booklist of open and unapologetic writers from Singapore.

Ng Yi-Sheng. Edited by Jason Wee. SQ21: SINGAPORE QUEERS IN THE 21ST CENTURY. (2006). An Oogachaga Publication published by Math Paper Press. Non-Fiction.

Ng Yi-Sheng is a well-known award-winning poet as well as a fictionist, playwright, journalist and activist. SQ21 is a groundbreaking non-fiction collection of coming out stories featuring real names and faces accompanied by Ng’s clear prose. The Straits Times called it the best non-fiction book of 2006 and it’s first run quickly sold out. Luckily, it has now been reprinted and is currently available at Singapore’s BooksActually through its online store.

De Rozario, Tania. And The Walls Come Crumbling Down. 2016. Math Paper Press. Poetry.

Tania De Rozario is an artist and writer that delves into the entanglements of gender, sexuality, home, memory. Part memoir, part poetry, in And The Walls Come Crumbling Down, De Rozario describes three events in the author’s life in a work that end up being about love, loss and home. 

“And The Walls Come Crumbling Down is the work of an accomplished author. At once intimate and restrained, De Rozario moves readers to consider what home really is. There is a dream-like quality to De Rozario’s prose, yet familiar details give us a strong sense of place in another person’s story. De Rozario’s voice is confident and assured, a necessary feat to lend universality to such personal subject matter.” – Balli Kaur Jaswal, author of Inheritance.

Yang. JY The Black Tides of Heaven. (2017). Tor.com. Fiction

An award-winning, unique silkpunk fantasy  released as one of a pair of introductions to their Tensorate Series. Its twin novella is The Red Threads of Fortune. Fittingly, the twin books tell stories of twin children, Mokoya and Akeha in a fantastical world described by the author as “Dragon Age meets Jurassic World meets Star Wars meets Mad Max.” You can read the #GlobalPRIDELitMonth review here.

Tan, Marylyn. Gaze Back. 2018. Ethos Books. Poetry.

Tan’s debut poetry collection was nominated for LAMBDA’s literary award for lesbian poetry (2019). A poet, artist, and a linguistics grad, Tan wrote this collection for “a female, Singaporean, fatigued audience, who might be sexually deviant, who was perhaps a sexual minority but in no way less valuable as a person—an audience that understands being cast out.”

Wong, Cyril.  Like A Seed With Its Singular Purpose. 2006. Math Paper Press. Poetry.

Widely recommended, award-winning and translated into other languages, Wong’s name comes up often in Singaporean Literature. In this collection of poetry, he takes on language, religion, death and other hallmarks of human existence.

“The poems in Cyril Wong’s collection are indeed seeds – each one starts something vibrant and new growing in the world. And though he may write of disaster, it is with triumph; though he may look into the darkest corners, he finds a light there that he brings back to fill his poems, and from there, to fill the reader’s mind. These are seeds of light that believe in life – so much so that they can look at it honestly.”- Cole Swensen, author of Such Rich Hour

Chan, Stephanie. Roadkill for Beginners. 2019. Math Paper Press. Poetry.

Also known as Stephanie Dogfoot, she is a writer, performer, comedian and educator. Although she started writing poetry at age 11 (when her pet gerbil died), this is her first collection of poetry.

“Roadkill for Beginners isn’t just a kickass spoken word collection; it’s a vital memoir that charts the path of a queer cosmopolitan Singaporean, shifting from city to city, caught between culture wars and radical politics, finding herself, discovering her own voice.” –Ng Yi-Sheng, author, playwright, activist, Singapore Literature Prize Winner (Poetry) 2008

Tan, Joel. Queer Singapore: Empire is Not That Far Away. 2018. daikon* Issue #5: Summer 2018/Migration. Essay. You can read it here.

A playwright and essayist, Tan’s plays are known for interrogating Singapore’s society, politics, and social mores. With the spectre of British colonialism haunting his essay, Queer Singapore, Tan examines the legacies of homophobic colonialism that weave together Singapore and the United Kingdom and asks “is there a true reckoning of LGBT history in the UK, of Pride, of anti-gay legislation, brutality and violence, without a reckoning of empire and it’s long shadow?”

Sa’at, Alfian. A History of Amnesia. 2001. Ethos Books. Poetry.

Poet, playwright and writer, Sa’at was actually a medical student when he published A History of Amnesia. It was later shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2004. In this collection, he works with ideas of collective history, memory and myth.

Read more about:

LGBT Rights in Singapore

LGBT Topics in Singaporean Literature

Pink Dot

Poets in Singapore

Guest Editor of #GlobalPRIDELitMonth and Writer: Anita Fata (she, her, hers) is currently pursuing a Master in Libraries and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia’s iSchool. A daughter of European immigrants, she is a first generation Canadian settler, living and working on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in what is now called Vancouver, BC, Canada. Fascinated by the pitfalls of cataloguing, she also spends too much time thinking about translated literature and LGBT2QIA+ authors while volunteering at Out on the Shelves Library. Find her on Twitter @anita_if

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