Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Literature of Singapore
The literature of Singapore comprises a collection of literary works by Singaporeans in the country's four main languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
While Singaporean literary works may be considered as also belonging to the literature of their specific languages, the literature of Singapore is viewed as a distinct body of literature portraying various aspects of Singapore society and forms a significant part of the culture of Singapore. A number of Singaporean writers such as Tan Swie Hian and Kuo Pao Kun have contributed work in more than one language. However, this cross-linguistic fertilisation is becoming increasingly rare and it is now increasingly thought that Singapore has four sub-literatures instead of one.

Literature in English
Fiction writing in English did not start in earnest until after independence. Short stories flourished as a literary form, the novel arrived much later. Goh Poh Seng remains a pioneer in writing novels well before many of the later generation, with titles like If We Dream Too Long (1972) – widely recognised as the first true Singaporean novel – and A Dance of Moths.
Although she began as a short story writer, Penang-born Catherine Lim has been Singapore's most widely read author, thanks partly to her first two books, Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore (1978) and Or Else, The Lightning God and Other Stories (1980), which gained prestige by being incorporated into texts for the GCSE. Lim's themes of Asian male chauvinistic gender-dominance marked her as a distant cousin to Asian-American writers such as Amy Tan. She has also been writing novels, such as The Bondmaid (1998) and Following the Wrong Gods Home (2001), and publishing them to an international audience since the late 1990s.
Han May is the pseudonym of Joan Hon who is better known for her non-fiction books. Her science-fiction romance Star Sapphire (1985) won a High Commendation Award from the Book Development Council of Singapore in 1986, the same year when she was also awarded a Commendation prize for her better-known book Relatively Speaking on her family and childhood memories.
Rex Shelley hails from an earlier colonial generation, although he began publishing only in the early 1990s. His first novel The Shrimp People (1991) won a National Book Prize.
Another National Book Prize winner Su-Chen Christine Lim's works are much more feminist-inclined, although she has moved beyond such distinctions in her latest novel A Bit of Earth (2000).
Gopal Baratham, a neurosurgeon, started as a short story writer and later wrote politically-charged works like A Candle or the Sun (1991) and Sayang (1991), which courted some controversy when first published. Augustine Goh Sin Tub who began his writing career writing in Malay, burst on the literary scene after his retirement with more than a dozen books of short stories, most of which were founded on his own personal history, thus making them part fiction and part non-fiction. Works like One Singapore and its two sequels One Singapore 2 and One Singapore 3 have found fans among the different strata of Singapore society and well acclaimed by all.
Around this time, younger writers emerged. Clare Tham and Ovidia Yu wrote short stories, while playwright Stella Kon put forth her lesser-known science-fiction novel, Eston. Of the younger generation, Philip Jeyaretnam has shown promise but has not published a new novel since Abraham's Promise (1995), while Colin Cheong can lay claim to being one of Singapore's most prolific contemporary authors.


Aaron Lee, poet and lawyer
Abdul Ghani Bin Abdul Hamid
Alfian Sa'at, playwright, poet and fiction writer
Muhammad Ariff Ahmad
Gopal Baratham, neurosurgeon and writer
Boey Kim Cheng, poet
Colin Cheong, poet and novelist
Felix Cheong, Poet
Michael Chiang, playwright
Rohani Din
Ivy Goh Nair, Journalist and writer
Goh Poh Seng, poet and novelist
Han May, novelist and writer
Philip Jeyaretnam, novelist and lawyer
Rama Kannabiran
Russell Lee
Jeffery T.H. Lee, poet
Lee Tzu Pheng, poet
Liang Wern Fook
Catherine Lim, novelist
Su-Chen Christine Lim, novelist
Shirley Lim, poet and critic
Chandran Nair, poet and Artist
Alvin Pang, poet and editor
Villayil Raman Gopala Pillai, Malayalam Novelist
Daren Shiau, poet, novelist and lawyer
Rex Shelley, novelist
Robert Yeo, playwright and Poet
Kirpal Singh, poet and critic
Huzir Sulaiman, playwright
Hwee Hwee Tan, novelist
Colin Tan, poet
Tan Swie Hian, poet, translator, calligrapher, and artist
Simon Tay, poet and lawyer
Tan Tarn How, playwright
Edwin Thumboo, poet and academic
I Ulaganathan
James Villanueva, textbook-writer, poet, novelist, playwright
Cyril Wong, poet and countertenor
Eleanor Wong, academic lawyer and playwright
Arthur Yap, poet
Yeow Kai Chai, poet and journalist
Yim Kein Kwok, novelist and businessman
Yong Shu Hoong, poet
Ovidia Yu, playwright and novelist List of Singaporean writers

Selected works

After the Hard Hours, This Rain - Chandran Nair (1975)
Army Daze - Michael Chiang (1984)
Star Sapphire - Han May (1985)
Below: Absence - Cyril Wong (2002)
The Bondmaid - Catherine Lim (1995)
The Brink of an Amen - Lee Tzu Pheng (1991)
Eight Plays - Huzir Sulaiman (2002)
First Loves - Philip Jeyaretnam (1988)
Fistful Of Colours - Su-Chen Christine Lim (1993)
Foreign Bodies - Hwee Hwee Tan (1997)
Frottage - Yong Shu Hoong (2005)
I Chose to Climb - Colin Tan (2001)
I Remember May - Yim Kein Kwok (2001)
If We Dream Too Long - Goh Poh Seng (1973)
Mammon Inc. - Hwee Hwee Tan (2001)
Man Snake Apple - Arthur Yap (1988)
Once the Horsemen and Other Poems' - Chandran Nair (1972)
Ricebowl - Su-Chen Christine Lim (1984)
Singapore Accent - Ivy Goh Nair,aka B J Wu (1980)
The Sea is Never Full - Jeffery T.H. Lee (1994)
The Shrimp People - Rex Shelley (1991)
The Space of City Trees - Arthur Yap (2000)
The Stolen Child - Colin Cheong (1989)
A Third Map - Edwin Thumboo (1993)
City of Rain - Alvin Pang (2003)
Unmarked Treasure - Cyril Wong (2004)
The Visage of Terrorism - The Hounds of Hell - James Villanueva (2006/2004)
A Visitation of Sunlight - Aaron Lee (1997) English


Jangan Tak Ada (collection of poems) - Muhammad Ariff Ahmad (1990)
Diari Bonda (Mother's Diary) - Rohani Din (1997)
Anugerah Buat Syamsiah (An Award for Syamsiah) - Rohani Din (2001)

No comments: